There’s no doubt about it, the tortilla española or Spanish omelet is the most commonly served dish in Spain. In a country filled with regional food, some might call it the national dish.
In Spain, it’s usually called tortilla de patata or potato omelet. Bars and cafés throughout the country serve it as a tapa or appetizer, but it also is often served as a light dinner in Spanish homes.
Because it is easy to transport, Spaniards turn it into bocadillos or sandwiches by placing a piece of the omelet between two pieces of a baguette. Others enjoy a thick slice around noon for their mid-morning snack, served alongside a steaming cup of café con leche.
This tortilla espanola or tortilla de patata makes 8 to 10 servings as an appetizer or 6 servings as a main course.
- 6 to 7 medium potatoes (peeled)
- 1 yellow onion (diced into 1/4-inch pieces)
- 1/2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
- 2 to 3 cups pure olive oil (for pan-frying)
- 5 to 6 large eggs (the better the eggs, the better the tortilla)
Steps to Make It
- Gather the ingredients.
- Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato into pieces approximately 1/8-inch thick. If you slice them thick, don’t worry—it will simply take a little longer for them to cook.
- Place potatoes and onions into a large bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.
- In a large, heavy, nonstick frying pan, heat 1 1/2 cups of the olive oil on medium-high heat. Carefully place the potato-onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading it evenly over the surface. The oil should almost cover the potatoes. You might need to turn down the heat slightly so the potatoes do not burn. You want them to slowly fry, not becoming crisp like french fries, but rather tender and creamy. It is important to use good olive oil, as the potatoes will absorb quite a bit of the oil.
- Leave the mixture in the pan until the potatoes are cooked. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula that allows the oil to drain and let cool. To cool the mixture more quickly, spread it out gently on a baking sheet to avoid breaking the potatoes.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Pour in the cooled potato-onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon. Let sit for about five minutes.
- Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil into a small, non-stick frying pan (approximately 9 to 10 inches in diameter) and heat on medium heat. Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil or the tortilla will burn. When hot, stir the potato-onion mixture once more and “pour” into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly browned. The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.
- When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate—about 12 inches in size—upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and let the omelet fall onto the plate.
- Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough of the remaining oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so.
- Now slide the omelet into the frying pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.
- Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve.
- If eating as a main course, cut the omelet into 6 to 8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.
- If you are serving as an appetizer, slice a baguette into pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the tortilla into 1 1/2 inch squares and place a piece on top of each slice of bread.
- Serve and enjoy!
How to Serve Tortilla Espanola
It is simply delicious served with sofrito, a fried tomato sauce that is made all over Spain consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, and olive oil sautéed in a frying pan. It’s also great with roasted red peppers.