Food for Architects

Tortilla Espanola – A Casual Affair


Tortilla Espanola is one of those versatile dishes that can be eaten at any time of day, as a snack or a light meal. It is also a perfect dish to take to a party. Tortilla espanola: transports well, can be served warm or at room temperature, can be made ahead of time, can be portioned large or small. A few years ago I was lucky enough to find myself in Barcelona on a hot rooftop with a view of the Sagrada Familia. I had been invited to a housewarming party by some locals and witnessed true Spanish hospitality. Round after round of snack foods and drinks were served to each guest. The food included all manner of grilled sausages from morcilla to chorico, grilled veg, and a simple but tasty tortilla espanola. Each morsel was served on a round of crusty bread which was obligatory. The party was 8 hours of eating and drinking and wonderful company.


The making of a tortilla espanola is a causal affair. This is not so much a recipe but a technique; quantities of ingredients can vary depending on the size of your pan and the desired thickness of the tortilla (thicker is considered better). Here below is my method.

Begin by gathering some potatoes, waxy boiling types, which will hold their shape better during cooking. Peel them, wash them, and with a small paring knife cut the potatoes into irregular shards approximately 3mm thick. How many potatoes depends on the size of your pan. You want the potato shards to come up halfway or 3/4 of the sides of the pan. Next slice a small onion in a similar manner. Use a yellow cooking onion or a Spanish onion. You want to have small pieces of onion, not rings or half moons, not dice.


Place the onion and potato shards in a non-stick skillet and season moderately with salt. Start pouring in the pan good quality olive oil. Your potatoes and onions need to be swimming or at least half submerged. The olive oil is an essential flavour to the finished dish. The large quantity of oil is necessary as it confits / poaches the vegetables gently so that they are tender and soft. You do not want the potatoes to brown or fry. Cook the veg over lowest heat, with the lid on, gently stirring periodically to ensure even cooking. Test the potatoes with a knife to ensure they are tender. This could take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Next cool the veg before gently straining the excess olive oil. Reserve the oil (now flavoured with onion) for another use such as for frying or roasting vegetables or chicken.

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Next take some eggs, roughly the same volume as the potatoes. Today I used double yolked eggs which I picked up from the Italian market. Beat them in a medium bowl and season lightly with salt. Gently mix in the potatoes and onion. Heat your non-stick pan on medium, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour in the egg mixture and turn the heat down to low so that the bottom of the tortilla doesn’t burn. Cover your pan and cook over lowest heat for 15-25 minutes (depending on thickness).


Your eggs should be 90% set at this point. Place a plate over the skillet, flip over the mixture and slide back into the skillet to set the remaining uncooked egg. Turn out the finished tortilla onto a plate and cool before cutting into wedges or squares so that it holds its shape.


This entry was published on December 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm. It’s filed under Recipes, technique and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Tortilla Espanola – A Casual Affair

  1. Wow, what an amazing experience you had in Barcelona. I will be visiting barcelona in March. Can’t wait for all the good food!

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