Last year I was fortunate enough to go visit my sister in Spain, where she was living at the time. I was very very happy to see her and her family, but let’s be honest. Traveling is all about the cool food. One night we went out for tapas. Little plates of appetizers, if you’re not familiar with the term. I love tapas because you can try so many different things instead of just choosing one. Spanish Tortilla was one of the things we ate. Much to my surprise, it actually doesn’t contain tortillas at all, it’s more of a potato tart sort of thing. I never thought of potatoes in Spanish cooking but there they were. That particular Spanish Tortilla didn’t rock my world but it was really good. Good enough that I wanted to try to make it at home.
A few months ago I came across a recipe for Spanish Tortilla in a magazine. I made it and it was fine. I basically thought it was just another version of a frittata; there wasn’t anything special about it. And then…my sister sent me a new cookbook. A couple of American friends of hers decided to write a cookbook while they were living in Spain, with a little help and instruction from an actual Spanish person. I got one of the first copies and it is a treasure! The Drinking Girls’ Guide to Spanish Food is so fun; the recipes are quick, authentic, and delicious! I love how it’s structured with full menus, including cocktails. The Spanish Tortilla pictured there did not look like what I’d made previously and the recipe was quite a bit different so I decided to give it a whirl. It was a completely different, potato-induced pleasure experience. It’s a good thing my kids were here to eat part of it because I’m not sure I would have been able to stop. This recipe will be made over and over again in my house.
Microwaves are nice to have and convenient for re-heating tea or leftovers, or making popcorn. I’ve never really used it much for actual cooking. I prefer the way things taste when they are cooked on the stove top. This recipe isn’t cooked in the microwave but a lot of the prep work is done there. If you’ve cooked potatoes much you know that sometimes even an easy recipe can take a little while because they take a while to cook. With this process, it’s nice and quick and the potatoes cooked up perfectly. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of olive oil in the recipe. A good portion of it is poured off and can be reused for something else.
Traditional Spanish Tortilla
(from The Drinking Girls’ Guide to Spanish Food, by Ashleigh Wehmeyer & Tiffani Warner)
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 large sweet onion, diced
5 large eggs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Place chopped onions and olive oil in a large microwave safe bowl (glass is preferred). Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove and stir. If onions aren’t soft and translucent, cook them another 2-3 minutes. While the onions are cooking, peel and slice potatoes (about 1/8″ thick slices). If you do this early, soak in a bowl of cold water until ready to use (drain off water before using). Add potatoes and sea salt to onion mixture and stir. Place a lid or plate over the bowl, leaving a small opening to vent. Microwave for 15 minutes on high. Remove and stir. Potatoes should be fork tender. If not, cook another 2-3 minutes. Drain the potato and onion mixture through a colander, collecting the extra oil in a bowl underneath. Save for later.
Crack eggs into a shallow baking dish or serving bowl. Beat them until well mixed, then fold in the potato and onion mixture. Heat 2 tbsp. of reserved oil in a 10 inch, non stick skillet over high heat. Swirl the hot oil all around the pan. When it starts smoking, pour in the potato mixture. Immediately turn down to medium heat. Keep running your fork around the outside of the mixture as it bubbles up. Also, use your fork to pull apart in the middle, allowing more to seep down underneath and cook. The mixture will start to firm up in the pan. Keep an eye on the edges. When they are golden brown it’s time to flip. Use a large plate or pizza pan that doesn’t have much of a lip on it. Invert plate on top of the pan, put a pot holder on top and hold it there with one hand. Quickly flip over so the tortilla is on the plate. Slide back into the pan, uncooked side down. Tuck down the edges again if necessary. Press down on the top with the back of your fork. When it feels firm it’s about done. You can flip it again to check to see if it’s golden brown on the bottom if you want to. Flip more if needed to complete cooking (the recipe says to flip it several times but I only flipped it once and it turned out perfectly). Sprinkle with parsley, fresh ground pepper, or green onions and serve.