Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tortilla espanola - Spanish frittata with potatoes

  • Pin It
Spanish tortilla omelet with potatoes and onions

The day before Hurricane Irene struck the East coast last August, I was in Vermont fetching my older son, Emery, from music camp. Hurricanes come with fair warning these days, so I'd been listening to the weather reports and reworking our travel plans as the storm's path shifted.

It looked like we might not be able to make it all the way back to my mom's house on Long Island before the bridges were closed, and I had no intention of getting stuck in the Bronx. Instead, we drove a few hours south and rode out the storm in western Massachusetts with my friend Sarah and her family. Sarah and I have known each other since middle school - as it happens, we both went to the very same music camp from which I'd just picked up Emery.

Some old friends feel like strangers when it's a long time between visits. Sarah feels like family. We spent the storm catching up, calming the kids, cooking, and obsessing over whether tree branches were going to fall on our cars. (They didn't.)

Slice the potatoes and onions thinly, and be careful not to let them brown

The wind blew and the rain fell, but the kids still got hungry, so we foraged in the pantry and Sarah made an authentic Spanish tortilla. In the 80s and 90s, while I was starting my career in publishing in New York, Sarah took off for Europe and played in an orchestra in the Canary Islands. She ate this tortilla often during those years but only recently figured out how to recreate it properly, with the help of Mark Bittman. The secret, Sarah told me, was olive oil - a lot more olive oil than reasonable cooks might be inclined to use. I've never been to Spain, so I can't vouch for its authenticity, but Sarah's tortilla was delicious. We forgot all about the storm as we sat around the table.

I made my own version of Sarah's tortilla when I got back to California, with red potatoes freshly dug from my garden. With a green salad, tortilla espanola makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner. I let my onions get a little too dark - don't make that mistake. You want to get the potatoes and the onions soft without letting them color.

print recipe

Tortilla espanola (Spanish omelet with potatoes)
Serve this traditional Spanish omelet with a green salad for a light lunch or dinner. Keep the heat low so the potatoes and onions soften without browning.
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound potatoes, any variety (I use Idaho potatoes when my garden stash is gone)
  • 1/2 medium-sized onion
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat 3 Tbsp of the oil over medium-low heat in a large oven-proof skillet. Cast iron works well if you have one.Slice the potatoes and onion thinly and add to the oil - no need to peel the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the potato mixture, stirring gently every so often, until the potatoes are tender. Keep the heat low, adjusting if necessary, so the potatoes and onions do not brown. Remove the potato mixture and wipe out the skillet.Preheat your broiler with the rack about 4 inches from the heat. While it's heating up, beat the eggs with a fork; add a little salt and pepper to the beaten eggs. Put the skillet back over medium-low heat and add the remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil to the skillet. When it's hot, return the potato mixture to the pan and pour over the eggs. Cook the omelet slowly, lifting up the edges as they set to let the raw egg run underneath.When the tortilla is set but still runny on top, put the skillet under the broiler. Watch it closely - it only needs a minute or two in the oven to cook the remaining eggs. When the top is golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and slide the tortilla onto a cutting board. Let cool 15 minutes before cutting.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6 servings


Marnely Rodriguez-Murray said...

Definitely one of my favorite Spanish dishes!

Monet said...

What a great story to accompany a great post. And the tortilla looks perfect. Thank you for taking the time to share it with me. I'm sipping on tea and about to start on breakfast...I wish I had something like this to start my day with (but in one way, I do!) I hope you have a great week.

Bianca @ South Bay Rants n Raves said...

This is the second frittata recipe I've seen on my reader. Doesn't help that I'm also eating a homemade one right now, must be the season. I'll try this version. Always nice to find new varieties!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried the Spanish omelette of Trader Joe's sold it in March and April 2011 in the Trader Joe's on the west coast.

Post a Comment