Which five simple ingredients will create a dish that will change the way you think about snacking? Chances are, you already have them at home. Potatoes, onions, eggs, olive oil, and salt, that’s it! With these five pantry staples, you can create a Spanish tapa that is more satisfying and delicious than you could ever imagine something so simple to be. In Spain, it’s called tortilla Española, tortilla de patatas, or simply tortilla. It’s similar to an Italian fritatta, except that instead of being finished in the oven, it’s finished on the stovetop.
When I first visited Spain, I remember seeing tortilla on the menu at every tapas bar we visited. It was a welcome interlude to all the salty cured meat and preserved seafood that dominate the tapas bars. The Spanish enjoy this regional delicacy by itself as a tapa or on a baugette as a bocadillo. I knew that when I got home, I’d have to figure out how to make this thing because my husband loved it so much.
It turns out, this recipe is very simple and easy to make. You just need a few pieces of equipment; a 10″-12″ skillet at least 1-1/2″ deep (preferably, but not mandatorily nonstick), a big bowl, a large plate, and a sharp knife. It helps to have a mandoline; it’ll save you some time, but it’s not essential. A steady hand and a sharp knife will do just fine.
The best thing about tortilla Española is how versatile it is. It tastes great cold, warm, or at room temperature. It makes a great weekday lunch or mid-day snack. Take one to a potluck and you will be the talk of the town.
This recipe was developed with our 2012 Talai-Berri “Finca Jakue” Getariako Txakolina in mind – a deliciously fizzy white wine from the Basque region of Spain. The txakoli is perfectly contrasted by the richness of the tortilla – it has enough acidity to cut right through the olive oil and potato flavors. Enjoy the two together on a warm afternoon, the txakoli with a good chill and the tortilla served cold alongside some tomato-rubbed bread and jamón.
prep time: 15 min
cooking time: 30 min
Serves 8-10 as an appetizer
4 medium russet potatoes or 6-8 yukon gold potatoes
1 large onion
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil
10″-12″ frying pan, at least 1-1/2″ deep
Large plate, at least the size of your skillet
Sharp knife or mandoline
- Fill the large bowl halfway with cold water and set next to your work surface.
- Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, 1/8″ thick or a little thinner, with your knife or mandoline. Place the sliced raw potatoes in the bowl of water to prevent them from oxidizing.
- Peel the paper off the onion and slice in half, lengthwise. Thinly slice the onion and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Drain the potato slices well and add to the oil, along with the onions. Cook the potatoes and onions over medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning the slices often. Avoid letting them brown. The potatoes and onions are done when they are fully cooked and easily pierced with the corner of your spatula.
- While you’re cooking the potatoes, whisk the 6 eggs and salt in a large bowl until combined.
- Remove the potatoes and onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the egg mixture, reserving the olive oil in the pan. Mix the potatoes and onions into the egg batter with a large spoon, being careful not to crush or mash the cooked potato slices.
- Strain the oil from the skillet into a clean jar, and wash the skillet well enough that the surface is free of any stuck-on potatoes.
- Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat. I like to use non-stick cooking spray for this step (I don’t have a non-stick pan), or you can use 2 tbsp. of the reserved olive oil.
- Make sure the skillet is good and hot, but not hot enough to burn the oil. Add the potato/onion/egg mixture to the hot pan. It’s important the pan is hot, so the tortilla doesn’t stick.
- After about a minute, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tortilla is set but the surface is still runny. Remove from the heat.
- Give the pan a shake to loosen the tortilla, use a spatula to help loosen it if you need to.
- Take your large plate and set it upside-down over the surface of the tortilla while it’s still in the skillet (if the plate is bigger than the skillet, that’s OK). Carefully invert the skillet and allow the tortilla to fall onto the plate.
- Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and return it to medium-high heat. Add another coating of non-stick cooking spray or 2 tbsp. olive oil.
- Slide the tortilla back into the pan, uncooked side down. Turn the heat down to medium after a minute. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. In the meantime, wash and dry the plate you used to invert the half-cooked tortilla onto.
- Shake the pan to loosen the tortilla, and remove it by inverting it out of the skillet back onto a plate. Allow it to cool, then slice it into wedges and serve.