These Tortilla Española bites are a traditional Spanish tapa, perfect to serve at your next gathering! This is a simple 4-ingredient recipe that always turns out.
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Today, I’m offering you the most traditional Spanish tapa of all, a Spanish tortilla. Tortilla Española, as it’s called in Spain, is nothing like a Mexican tortilla. It’s more like an omelette, but one hundred times better.
In years past, it was a simple dish made with eggs, potatoes and onions, served cold, and was something a shepherd could wrap in brown paper, shove in his pocket, and save for his lunch. We found Tortilla Española on the menu in every bar or restaurant we visited. Some versions were simple, made with just those three ingredients. Other chefs took it up a notch, splitting it and stuffing the center with sliced tomatoes, lettuce and a creamy aioli or topping it with Romesco sauce.
We’re back! After 5 weeks traveling (and eating) our way through Portugal and Spain and almost a week recovering from jet lag, I’m full of ideas to share with you. Images of the food we ate, from paella cooked over an open fire on the beach to chocolate dipped palmiers are swirling in my mind, but today is all about tapas, and particularly about the most traditional tapa of all: Tortilla Española.
Tapas–those small bites served in Spanish bars and restaurants from early evening to all hours of the night–have to be the best way to eat. I’m convinced I could have those sharable little morsels every day and never tire of them. They’re a great way to serve a crowd at your next gathering, too. No cook wants to be stuck in the kitchen all night–unless you’re having a tapa party, that is. I’m planning a couple of parties and will invite my friends to hang out in the kitchen with me, or better still, I may even put them to work assembling these fun morsels. Providing a variety from which to choose insures that even my guests with allergies or dietary preferences will be looked after.
Tapa in Spanish translates to “cover.” Historically, a small piece of bread was used to cover the top of a wine glass to prevent flies from getting in. Those days are gone, and Denis and I found the tapa scene seemed to be evolving too. In some parts of Spain, most tapas were simple bites, maybe a slice of baguette with some Manchego and Iberico ham on top or simply a small dish of olives. In other tapa bars, however, notably in Seville, San Sebastian and Barcelona, eating tapas was definitely an upscale gourmet experience.
And in the name of research, we popped in to several tapa bars. We were a little unsure just how to order these, but we were determined to figure it out. With our limited knowledge of Spanish, but armed with a “can-do” attitude, we made the plunge into the first one and soon developed the confidence to take on the tapa bar world.
This recipe for Tortilla Española is a quick and easy recipe that never fails. I have made it many times, for breakfast, for lunch, and even for a light dinner, and it always turns out perfectly. Simply cook the potatoes, slice them, sauté the onions, whisk the eggs, add a little salt and mix it all together. Pour into a preheated frying pan with a generous amount of olive oil, let it set just for a minute or two, then bake in the oven. When it is done, invert the pan over a serving dish, and it will slide right out.
I’ve adapted this recipe to make smaller bites that would be perfect to serve at a tapa party where guests will likely want to try everything without overeating.
- 5 large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 6 large eggs
- 1 yellow onion
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Peel and boil the potatoes, just until tender. Slice thinly. Using a mandolin produces uniform slices, but it's not essential.
- Heat half of the oil in a frying pan with an ovenproof handle and sauté the onions, just until translucent but not browned.
- Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add the sliced potatoes, salt and onions.
- Add the remaining oil to the frying pan and when hot, pour in the egg mixture.
- Transfer the frying pan to the oven and bake at 350F. for 20 minutes or until the egg has set.
- Invert a serving dish over the frying pan and flip the frying pan over. The tortilla will release easily.
- Allow to cool. Slice into wedges or small squares and serve at room temperature.