tortilla espanola


tortilla 5

when i was 10 years old my mom asked us, her 3 children, if we would like to go to europe. for a year. like to live there. yes, please! and so we did. true story. we bought a VW van in amsterdam (refer back to the whole cosmic part of my moniker), had it decked out to live in and were on our way to camp europe. when you think about it most of europe is located on a latitude that falls on the cool side when it comes to camping, with the exception of summer.  we ended up  spending most of our time in sunny southern spain. eating this.

most of you probably don’t have memories of pleading with your mother to head up to the bar for a drinky-poo. but we did. it was the only way to get a slice of tortilla espanola (free with a glass of wine!). this was our introduction to tapas back in 1975. mom did her best, but she wasn’t (and still isn’t) much of a drinker. so we just had to learn how to make it ourselves. my sister and i still make these on a regular basis. this was probably one of the first things i ever learned how to cook completely on my own, tollhouse cookies and biscuits from a can, aside.


look at these beautiful eggs from vital farms. they are from araucana hens, i believe. they are the ones that produce the blue-green eggs.

tortilla 3

mmm…lemony, super yellow yolks. commercial eggs ain’t got nothin’ on these.

tortilla 4

you can play with the ingredients a bit. i chopped up some salami i had on hand. like an omelette, you can add just a few handfuls of veggies or meat to liven things up. traditionally in spain, these are sweet red pepper, chorizo, maybe a few sliced mushrooms. but the egg and potato really should remain in leading roles. this is a peasant dish, after all.

tortilla final

tortilla espanola (serves 6-8 as an appetizer)

this is a very fluid recipe, meaning that the amounts may be slightly different for you, depending on the size of your potatoes, eggs, even your pan. the mixture should look roughly like the picture of raw eggs and potatoes in the bowl above before you put in in the pan for the final step. don’t let the amount of oil used in the recipe scare you away. the potatoes should gently fry, but also boil in the oil, then most it is drained off.

4-5 medium sized potatoes  sliced to 1/8″ thickness, then cut slices in half or quarters (i prefer yukon golds, russets will also work)

1 small spanish onion, sliced thinly

5-6 farm fresh eggs

3/4 cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

heat olive oil in non-stick 7-8″ skillet over medium heat. add sliced potatoes and a generous pinch of salt and cook until potatoes are tender and appear blistered. you are not trying to brown them, but it’s okay if the edges are slightly browned. remove with slotted spoon and place in a colander. whisk eggs in a large bowl and add salt and freshly ground pepper. add  potatoes (and any other veggies or bits of meat you are using) and combine mixture. pour off all but 1 tbsp of olive oil from pan into a measuring cup and reserve. heat oil in pan over medium high heat, then add potato/egg mixture. allow to set for a minute or so, then slide pan around a few times while cooking to be sure it doesn’t stick. i will sometimes tilt the pan to allow egg to run underneath tortilla if i feel it is very soupy. cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then place an inverted plate on top of pan. quickly invert pan so tortilla is on plate, uncooked side down. then slide tortilla back into pan and add an additional tbsp of reserved olive oil. turn heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until bottom is slightly browned and tortilla is cooked through. you will have to trust your instincts on this as you will not be able to see inside the tortilla. if i have my doubts, at the end of the cooking time, i place an inverted plate or lid on the pan, turn off the flame and allow it to steam for a few minutes. flip tortilla on a plate, allow to rest for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

this is best served warm or at room temperature. around our house, we eat this over the course of  a day or so. it is also great as a light dinner with a green salad and a glass of white rioja. just store in the fridge and remove at least 20-30 minutes before serving.


Filed under appetizer, main dish

12 responses to “tortilla espanola

  1. TheRebecca

    I have to make this…I studied in Sevilla, and it is one of my favorite things! I will be trying to make it the way you did. I like your step-by-step photos too.

    Well done!

  2. Lovely! Your photograph is making me hungry!!! Move to Europe as kids?! Awesome opportunity!

  3. Merci! You’ve just solved my what-am-I-making-for-dinner dilemma. Yum.

  4. I want to hear more about that year! I’ve never made a proper tortilla espanola, but this looks so great with the potatoes I’m going to have do it.

  5. Hurray! So much love for the tortilla! I can’t wait to hear more stories from your time in Spain…

  6. Liz

    I’m one of the other lucky kids who got to go live in Europe with Steph, brother, and Mom.

    I make this all the time too! My version *requires* garlic though, heh-heh. Otherwise, I use the exact same technique. Beautiful pics, Stephie!

    I usually make two at a time (at least) because they fly off the plate! And Steph’s right — they are good piping hot, or at room temp. Nummy!

  7. thecosmiccowgirl

    thanks to all-torilla espanola truly reigns supreme!
    p.s. liz–i used to make it it with garlic like we did when we were kids, too. i found after many undertakings in recent years that the garlic got a little too bitter for my liking in this application. however, garlic still rules in my kitchen, just not in this dish!

  8. How come I have not had this before?? Or have I?

  9. I’ve made this with a similar receipe before, it’s yummy! Though your picture is far better than mine looked!

  10. Lauren

    Yum Steph…takes me straight back to Barttthelona!

  11. This dish looks great! I want some! 🙂

  12. George Cass

    Love your esprit de joie animating your photos and text. Great to see you in Chapel Hill!

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