Cheap eats #7: Spanish tortilla

IMG_0096I first learnt how to make Spanish tortilla from the lovely, Chris Adnitt, 20 years ago when he was sharing a flat in Maida Vale  with my (now) husband.  Chris went on Spanish exchanges when he was at school, and has always loved all things Spanish. So it’s hardly surprising that he now owns a gorgeous neighbourhood tapas restaurant, Number 22, in Herne Hill. He’s from Maltby.

We went recently on a fleeting visit to London just after new year. The food is delicious – service is great too (well I have to say that as Chris served us). The restaurant’s been refurbished after Herne Hill suffered 6ft floods the previous year. Then when I was at uni with another equally lovely friend, Alicia, who happens to be Spanish, the recipe got further updated. So, you could say my tortilla has a pretty good pedigree, though there’s always new ways of doing and improving recipes.

Tortilla, or Spanish omelette is a great way to use left over veg – so it’s a good meal for a Monday. And you can add 100g of bacon for a treat.* I’ve made it recently with sweet potato, carrot, beetroot and peas.

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You will need…

500g potatoes (about 4) diced
60ml olive oil Medium onion chopped
100g peas
5 medium eggs
Teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika (optional)

How to…

Heat 15ml olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
Fry the onion until translucent. Add the rest of the olive oil.
Heat through and add the potatoes.
Stir well and then reduce the heat to low Cover with a plate, so the vegetables steam cook.
Stir every few minutes until the potatoes are cooked through (should take about 10 minutes).
Add the smoked paprika and mix well.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl.
Add the peas to the potato mixture right at the end.
Put the vegetable mixture into a sieve over a bowl to drain out any excess oil.
Then stir into the beaten eggs.
Add a little oil to the frying pan again, just to coat it.
Pour the mixture into the pan and cook on a low heat. Finish the top under the grill.
Make sure it’s cook through in the middle.
Grate some cheese on top. Serve with cooked vegetables, salad or baked beans (for the kids)

Cost

I worked out the cost of this recipe and if you use organic eggs it costs £3.35, using free range, it costs £2.67.

Nutrition

There was once a time when eggs were thought to raise cholesterol, because of their high levels of cholesterol. But this is history now (something I learnt about at uni 15 years ago). It’s really just a good illustration of how science isn’t an absolute, there are always new findings which outdate the old.

A quarter of this tortilla is about 385 kcal’s, and provides some calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12 and vitamin C. *Bacon is a treat because there’s strong evidence to suggest regularly consuming processed meat such as bacon increases your risk of cancer. It’s thought that the nitrites in bacon and other cured meats could be the reason for this. It is possible to buy nitrite free bacon though whether this removes the risk factor is not known!

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Cheap Eats January #5 : In praise of beans on toast

Yes that’s right, I am writing a post on… baked beans on toast.

Only because nutritionally it’s a great meal, it’s cheap of course and if you’ve been working all day, doesn’t take long to prepare so you get to spend some time with your kids.

Nutrition

This meal will give your kids good amounts of protein, potassium, calcium, iron zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate, oh and fibre, of course.

Lower salt baked beans are ideal, as regular baked beans (and organic brands can be higher than others) tend to be high in salt (a quarter of a 100g tin of baked can provide as much as 75% of a 5 year olds recommended intake of salt – and that’s before you’ve added in the salt from bread too).

Protein combining

Proteins are chains of amino acids, of which there are 8 that are essential in our diets. Two of these, lysine and methionine are more readily available in balanced proportions in protein from animal sources (such as eggs, milk and cheese). Vegetarians and especially vegans need to make sure they get a combination of foods that have good amounts of each.

Protein from cereals such as wheat and rice, tend to be low in lysine but good sources of methionine. Beans and lentils and peas tend to be low in methionine but high in lysine.

So combining cereals and legumes means you get complete proteins. Classic examples examples being beans on toast, humous and bread, tortilla and chilli (with red kidney beans) and rice and dhal (lentils).

It was for some time thought essential to combine these foods at the same meal but is now not thought to be necessary. However, it is interesting that in different cultures, all over the World that these combinations have existed for hundreds and thousands of years.

Even if it’s not required to combine these foods at the same meal, it makes sense to, as they complement each other so well.