Beat the heat this summer with a traditional Spanish tortilla


Beat the heat this summer with a traditional Spanish tortilla

We timed our annual trip to Maryland well in order to flee the smoke and enter the heat zone.

To endure the sweat-dripping temperatures, we spent the majority of that time submerged in the pool and floating in the river.

Honestly, it was pretty hard to eat during the day, but once the sun went down, we ate what is readily available at this time of year – corn, crab and tomatoes. It was great.

My mom has an impressive garden, and though her summer veggies were not ready, she had lots of potatoes and, of course, fresh eggs from her flock of chickens.

With a lot of family coming and going, we needed plenty of evening eats, so I decided to make a Spanish tortilla.

Unlike our tortillas made with flour or corn, Spanish tortillas hail from Spain and are made with potatoes. Just enough egg is added to hold it together.

It is a classic tapa, served room-temperature all day long in bars all over Spain. It is often served with a delicious Romescu sauce, but we did not get that far.

As expected, Clay, 7, was far too busy playing on the farm to join us in the kitchen. Molly, 9, cracked the eggs and beat them in a small bowl. She went outside in search of rosemary, which she found with pride, and tried to chop it. Emma, 11, appeared to help cook.

I sliced the potatoes very thin, along with a little onion. My sister was horrified by the amount of oil I was using, but I assured her some of it would be strained off.

The potatoes have to simmer in the oil to cook. This does not take long – less than 10 minutes.

I tried to pour the egg mixture straight into the pan, but that was a bad idea. Instead, after the potatoes are tender, strain off the oil, reserving it, and gently mix the potatoes with the eggs in a bowl. If there are any bits stuck to the pan, wash it.

Reheat the pan with some of the reserved oil, then add the potatoes back to pan and let them set, like an omelet. Once it is almost cooked through, gently loosen the bottom, then slide the tortilla onto an inverted sheet pan.

Add a little more oil, then flip the tortilla back into the pan to finish the other side. This whole process is a little tricky, but it’s more of a dexterity test than a culinary challenge.

I love food that does not have to go straight to the table. In fact, we ate most of the Spanish tortilla the next day for breakfast. It disappeared quickly.

The girls were so helpful and enthusiastic, even though Molly does not eat potatoes or eggs. Emma loved it, and Clay even grabbed a slice or two as he passed through the kitchen. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.

Spanish Tortilla

Servings: 4-6 as side dish, or more as appetizer


1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
½ small onion, sliced
1 cup olive oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil over medium in a 10-inch saute pan. Add potatoes and onions and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes or less.
Strain the oil through a sieve and reserve the oil. Pour a couple of tablespoons back into the pan and reheat.
In a bowl, mix the potatoes with the egg, rosemary and salt and pepper. Pour into the pan and let set, do not stir the mixture.
Allow tortilla to brown on the bottom, like an omelet. Flatten the top by pressing down gently.
Using a spatula, make sure the bottom does not stick. Once tortilla is almost cooked through, slide it out of the pan onto an inverted sheet pan or other flat, movable surface.
Add a little more oil to pan, then flip the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking the other side. Slide out of pan, and let cool.
Cut into wedges or small squares and serve hot, warm or cold.

Beat the heat this summer with a traditional Spanish tortilla

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