Friday, 17 May 2013

First flush & a taste for tortilla


It's waiting time on the allotment.  Almost everything is planted - save for courgettes, squash and pumpkins - and tender stems are reaching for the light.  My two plantings of broad beans have germinated well and stand between  8 and 12 cm tall.  Looks like Chocolate Spot is going to scar the pods this year as some of the leaves already bear the distinctive marks.  Not a threat to the beans but not a pretty sight.  The peas we planted alongside are struggling, making my carefully constructed pea-stick arch look a little optimistic this year. I could plant again but late peas usually fall prey to pea-moth, no matter how I try to protect them.  I'll keep my fingers crossed that there are stragglers just waiting to emerge.  It's a time to take a breath, weed, weed and weed a bit more, and bide our time.

Spinach 'Dominant' & 'Bordeaux'

Still, we have spinach - vibrant green and reliable Dominant and beautiful, red-stemmed and veined Bordeaux which is much more prone to bolt.  Sown three weeks ago, it feels good to have a fresh crop to pick instead of searching for a few new leaves on the ragged, over-wintering, Rainbow chard.  

Most of the tender leaves went into the salad bowl and, next day, the remaining pickings were added to beaten egg, softened onions and fried potatoes for a tortilla.  I sometimes use chard or a few herbs (coriander is good) instead of spinach.  The Tortilla shown was served just-warm with a mix of salad leaves which, sadly, were not my own.  I doubt there is a prettier, fresher and more interesting mix of salad than that supplied by Chegworth Farm.  They are now my first stop whenever I can't glean what I need from my own plot of land.

Tortilla Slice

So, when is this egg dish a Tortilla and when is it a Frittata?  It seems the difference is in the finishing.  If you cook one side in a pan then slide it under the grill, you have a Frittata.  If you turn it out onto a plate and then return it to the pan to finish it, you have a Tortilla.  I prefer Tortilla and here's the way I make it.

(Serves 2-4)

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced or diced
4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A handful of spinach or chard leaves
4 eggs
salt and pepper

Gently soften the onion in 1 tbsp olive oil, then put to one side.  In the same pan, gently cook the potatoes in 2 tbsp olive oil until just softened.  Wash and blanch the spinach or chard leaves in boiling water for 1 minute then drain and refresh in cold water (if the leaves are very young you can skip this step).  Drain and chop the leaves roughly.  
Mix the eggs lightly, add the onions, potatoes, leaves and seasoning and mix together.  Heat a round sided 20cm frying pan with a little olive oil until medium hot before pouring the mixture in.  Cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until it's firm enough to slide it out onto a plate larger than the pan (uncooked side up. Place the pan onto the plate and invert so that the uncooked side is now facing the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes more before turning it out to serve.