Sean and I met during the summer before our senior year of college. We’d both decided to stay at Bucknell — I’d just returned from my semester in Italy and would spend June and July doing research and leading tours of the campus. Sean had decided to major in Pre-med too late, so he needed to take a few classes.
I met Sean for the first time at his fraternity house, a few weeks into the summer. My close friend, Alex, knew him from the previous summer and she wanted to hang out. He made us cocktails and showed us around the house. I was instantly smitten. It took us a few months to become romantic, though, and we didn’t start officially dating until school began the following fall. For our first date, Sean took me to a new Italian restaurant in Lewisburg. The pasta was flavorless and overpriced, but Sean paid for everything. Despite the bad food, I loved the date. A few months later, I told Sean that I loved him, too.
Now, when I think back on that first summer and our final year at Bucknell, I’m surprised we stayed together. Neither of us knew where we’d end up after college. In fact, when we started dating, we promised each other that we’d break up at the end of the year, to make things easier. When the time came, though, we couldn’t do it. Instead, Sean moved to Boston with me — a decision that would freak me out now, but that seemed to make sense at the time. We spent 4 years together in Boston before getting engaged, then married.
While a lot has changed for us (in a very good way) over the past 6 years, two things remain the same: our love of good food and our wicked fun date nights. Recently, we went to a tapas cooking class together at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. The recipe below was one of the best things we made that night. And that class reminded me, yet again, how important it is to do new things with the person you love most.
Adapted from a Cambridge School of Culinary Arts recipe. Serves 4.
- 1.5 large yellow or Spanish onions
- 2-3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
- 12 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 large eggs
- salt and pepper
- a pinch of dried thyme
Slice the onions thin into strips. Peel the potatoes then cut them into paper thin slices using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Put potatoes in a strainer with a pinch of salt and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, heat 10 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large, oven-proof pan, like a cast iron skillet. Fry the onions in that oil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and cook slowly for another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the onions cook, put the potatoes on a sheet pan and cover with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Fry in the oven for about 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to make sure they’re not burning and flipping them halfway through. They might stick to the pan a bit, but that’s fine.
Once the onions are done, take them out of the pan and drain them, leaving the oil behind. Put them in a bowl. Add the potatoes once they come out of the oven. Add to this mixture 6 eggs, beaten. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of thyme.
Put the cast iron skillet (which should already have oil in it) back on medium heat. Keep the oven on. Pour the mixture into the skillet once the oil is hot, then cook for about 5 minutes, until the bottom of the egg mixture looks solid and has turned golden brown. Slide the skillet into the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the dish doesn’t jiggle when shaken and the top looks set.
To serve, flip the Tortilla Espanole out of the pan, upside down, onto a big plate. Allow people to cut their own slices, and garnish those slices with whatever you have on hand — fresh basil is our favorite. I usually serve this dish for dinner with a slide of fresh bread and a small arugula salad, but it’s also a great brunch dish. Enjoy!