Tortilla Española is one of the most commonly served dishes in Spain. It is basically a potato omelet and is delicious served warm or at room temperature. It can be served on its own or between a sliced baguette as a bocadillo. As a meal, I like to serve it with a crusty whole-wheat baguette and a salad or sautéed greens on the side.
Years ago, while my husband and I were visiting Spain, our friend Emilio (“Tio Emilio” to my daughter) showed me how to make Tortilla Española. For me, the most challenging part of this recipe is to flip the tortilla over without spilling any of the egg mixture. I’m ridiculously proud of myself when I manage to do this without any raw eggs dripping out the sides of the pan and onto the burner, since I’ve been successful only a handful of times. When Emilio showed me how to make this in his kitchen years ago, he flipped the tortilla over by placing a dinner plate over the pan covering the top of it, and quickly flipped it over, making it look like the easiest thing in the world. Then he slid the tortilla back into the pan to continue cooking. Do I do that? Ha! Ha! No. I just don’t have that much faith and, instead, I use a 2-sided frittata pan.
Over the years, I’ve been making this dish, first following Emilio’s directions exactly and then tweaking them along the way. One tip I must share: Add more salt than you think you need to use. I’m always hesitant to over salt any dish—but especially since I’m not going to taste raw eggs along the way, it’s hard to know when I’ve used enough. However, since people use potatoes to absorb salt when they’ve used too much, I always add more salt to this particular dish than I would typically add to my cooking. The recipe below uses a conservative amount of salt, so consider adding more.
Tio Emilio’s Tortilla Española (Jory’s adaptation)
Ingredients & Method (Serves 4)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped into small chunks
- 2 large potatoes, chopped into small chunks (Traditionally, the potatoes are peeled. I leave the skin on).
- 6 whole eggs or 3 whole eggs and 4 egg whites
- 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Salt, pepper, olive oil and vegetable oil to taste (I like to use safflower oil)
In a medium to large nonstick pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook them for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, scramble the eggs and add a few pinches of salt. Set bowl to the side.
Add the onions, garlic and two pinches of salt to the potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes, until golden. Remove from heat, strain off oil and spread vegetable mixture onto a dinner plate lined with paper towels. Let cool for around 5 minutes.
Heat olive oil in the same pan you used before over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, pour the vegetables into the eggs, add a bit more salt along with a pinch of pepper and stir. Pour egg and vegetable mixture into the hot pan. Cook for around 4 minutes, separating the mixture from the sides of the pan.
Flip the tortilla and cook, rotating it around so it doesn’t stick, for another 4 minutes until almost solid. Flip one more time and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute so the bottom is a bit more cooked then the top.
Remove from heat and serve warm or at room temperature.