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Spanish tortilla omelet. Beautiful Spanish country cooking, and only four ingredients needed.

Updated on September 14, 2007

Hearty quick Spanish cooking

Spanish tortilla omelet

In Spain, a tortilla is not a flat bread, but a hearty omelet with potatoes and sautéed onions, and is always fragrant with olive oil. This omelet is literally everyday food, and you can walk into any number of thousands of little cafes throughout Spain, and order a pincha de tortilla.

This is basic three ingredients cooking (four if you count the oil) but is so good, and so right. I lived a year in Spain, and I ate more of these than I can count (I also gained nearly more pounds than I could count…but that's another story) and never once got tired of this lovely hearty meal.

The key to this really is the olive oil, and there is no point in making this dish if you're contemplating wimping out on the lavish amounts of olive oil required. Do it right, and eat a salad tomorrow, it's worth it.

As with any iconic national food, there are bound to be variations, but this is the Madrilleno version, as taught to my by the mother of the house where I lived, and she was a very good cook, a very mean and scary lady, but a very good cook.

Spanish Tortilla omelet, for two

1 big baking potato, sliced thinly

1 half of a big onion, chopped

5 eggs


Lots of olive oil

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, and add a generous amount of olive oil, about 1/3 inches thick over the bottom of the pan. When hot, add your potatoes, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until almost cooked through. When almost cooked, add the onion, and let finish off for another 5 minutes or so, or until the potato is tender, and the onion is softened. You want the potato to be completely cooked through, but not at all crispy. If it's starting to brown, turn the heat down.

Meanwhile, crack your eggs in a bowl and whisk, adding 2 good pinches of salt.

Using a slotted spoon, take the onion and potato off the heat, and let drain for a minute. Season the potatoes with salt, and add to the egg mixture.

Heat another pan with some of the olive oil used to fry the potatoes, just a spoonful will be enough here. You should use your best non stick frying pan for this job.

When heated, add all of the egg mixture. Let set for about 30 seconds, stir a bit, and let set again. When the outer rim is completely set, and you'd judge that the bottom had cooked about half of the way through, it is time for the flip!

If you have a flat cutting board, larger than the size of your pan (with no ridges or rims) then this is perfect for the job. With one hand, hold the cutting board over the pan, as like a lid, and with the other hand, flip the pan upside down, so that the omelet falls uncooked side down onto the board. Quickly return the pan to the heat, and with a jerking motion, slide the omelet back into the pan, uncooked side down. It may not look perfect at first, and a few errant potatoes are not uncommon, but don’t worry about it. Use your spatula or wooden spoon to just kind of poke and prod it back into the correct shape, and all will turn out OK.

It's done when cooked through. Cooking times depend on the circumference of the pan used to cook the omelet, but you can just stick a fork in it, and when it comes out clean, she's ready.

Serve with crusty bread, and a side salad.

Four ingredients, so simple, so good. This is country cooking at its finest, and is a real treat at any time.

A great video showing the tortilla process from start to finish

the video tells the story

Watch this video and tell me you don't want a little tortilla espanola! Cheap eats, but very satisfying.

Never try to make this without olive oil though!


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    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the tip Amalia!

    • Amalia Perez profile image

      Amalia Perez 

      9 years ago from Bussum


      I'm Spanish and if I may give you a tip, add also some green peppers: it is much tastier flavor!


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