A wonderful yellow, round tortilla de patatas

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Many of the classical dishes, no matter from where, have their origins in peoples’ creativity and will to survive. Even with small means, humble families cooked with what they had at hand and by that they created food traditions. That makes those inventions not only dishes that have persisted in time, but dishes that have played a great role in history preventing families from starving and gathering people in joy and celebration, even with modest ingredients. The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” speaks also for food traditions.

In Spain, one of those dishes is TORTILLA DE PATATAS or TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA, as it is also called. I don’t think this dish requires any further introduction or translation, as we all know the Spanish tortilla. Perhaps, it is even the most characteristic dish for Spain, alongside the paella.

When and how was the tortilla created?

The potato came to Europe during the 16th century, but then it was used only for feeding animals. It took another 200 years before we started to introduce the potato in our diet.

The eldest reference to tortilla de patatas dates back to 1817 in a letter written to the Court of Navarra. It tells how a humble farmer’s woman, one cold winter evening had a visit from General Tomás de Zumalacárregui, who asked for something to eat.

All she had at hand were potatoes, eggs and onion. Thus, with those ingredients she made a tortilla. Her guest was more than pleased and took the idea with him to serve his troops during the First Carlist War. During the war, both produce and money were scarce means so the tortilla was a triumph. Simple, cheap and nutrient.

And now tortilla is the most demanded tapa or pintxo at bars and restaurants all over Spain. And it is always present at a table full of tapas or during a family gathering.
Tortilla can be served at any time of day: for breakfast, as a snack, for lunch, in a sandwich, at the beach, for dinner, on a weekday or at a celebration.

A piece of a cake, cheap and so very tasty!

The big question that divides Spaniards is: Tortilla with or without onion?

It’s up to you to decide. I like tortilla in whatever shape it comes: with onion, with peppers, with chorizo… In this case, I’ll prepare a tortilla without onion. Not so much for me, but rather for family peace.

This is how I make my super-tasty tortilla de patatas.

• 6-8 big potatoes
• 6 eggs (preferably organic)
• Salt
• 4-6 green frying peppers
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Frying pan (24 cm diameter)

Peel and cut the potatoes in small cubes.
Put the potatoes in the frying pan and cover them with olive oil. Let the potatoes cook slowly in the oil at low temperature without roasting.

While the potatoes are cooking, serve an appetizer! My favourite is vermouth. I serve it together with olives, pickled gherkins and a bowl of crisps.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add some salt.

When the potatoes are tender, take them out of the oil and let them drip in a colander. Put a plate under the colander to collect the oil. Once finished the dripping, salt the potatoes and add them to the eggs. Squash them a bit and let them mix well with the whisked eggs. Put aside.

Strain the olive oil though a fine colander to separate any tiny bits of potato.
Pour the oil back in the pan and turn on medium heat.

Poke the peppers with the edge of a knife. That way they will cook quicker and you keep them from “exploding”. Be careful, the oil might squirt when the water inside the peppers is released in the oil.

Fry the peppers until they have a nice colour and are tender.
Take them out and let them dry on paper towels. Add salt.

Pour the oil from the pan to a recipient. You can use it again the next time you make tortilla or any other dish.

Add a spoonful of oil into the pan. Turn on medium heat.
Add the potatoes and the eggs. When the eggs have started to set and the mixture starts to have a nice colour, it’s time to turn it over with the help of a plate. Turn the tortilla over and let it slide back into the pan. We want to achieve a golden surface and a juicy interior. So once the tortilla has a nice colour on both sides, turn it over 2-3 times each 30 seconds.

Serve the tortilla together with the fried green peppers and other delights as cured serrano ham, Manchego cheese and a yummy tomato salad.


Tortilla can be served both hot and cold, so you can always prepare it from one day to another. Just as you can serve it warm one day and what’s left of it (if any), cold on the next day.

Good luck with your yellow, round tortilla de patatas.

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