January 29, 2008
Tortilla Española means Spanish Torte, but it’s also known as Torta de Papas (Potato Torte) or Tortilla de Papas (Potato Tortilla). Thin slices of potato are fried in olive oil with onions and spices until they are just browned around the edges, and then eggs are added, making a gratin or omelet. While these are cooking, a delicious aroma starts to fill the kitchen-the soothing smell of simple home cooking. Layers of potato and onion are nestled into the egg, and the whole omelet is flipped to cook the top and further combine the flavors. The special combination of these every-day ingredients elevate this rustic dish, making it the ultimate comfort food. In a way, I think of it as famine food, the few things you have on hand at the end of the week before the trip to the store–onion, potato and egg are always available. But brought to the table, the lack dissipates-it relies on its simplicity to impress, it needs no showy ingredient to be outstanding.
Torta Española is a typical dish in Argentina, originally from Spain (hence the name). My mother says her Italian aunt, Millie, made it; and the French also have a version. So Torta Española in one form or other is well-know throughout the regions of Spain, Italy, Franc and Portugal. This recipe’s versatile enough that it can be eaten any time of day and with anything. Potato and egg are great as breakfast, or brunch. It makes a nice lunch or picnic dish and can be eaten as an appetizer or as a side dish at dinner.
This was one of the first things my husband made for me when we were dating, after he called his mom to get the recipe. Here it is:
Torta Española Recipe
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
fresh or dried parsley, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Peel and cut the potatoes into slices (about ¼ inch each) Dry the potatoes with paper towels. Put olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and the potatoes, and cook until the onion is clear and the potatoes are browning around the edges. Add in salt, parsley and pepper and mix well. Remove the onion and potato mixture and re-oil the pan. Return the mixture to the pan and arrange the potatoes in an even ‘layer’ around the pan. Add the eggs, and continue to cook until the omelet sets. When one side is cooked, cover the frying pan with a plate and carefully flip the pan over, removing the omelet from the pan. Return the omelet to the pan with the unfinished side down and cook for three to five minutes, or until done. Remove to a plate and cut into wedges or squares. The end result should be a tortilla that’s about 2 inches thick. It can also be decorated with Spanish olives or slices of roasted or fresh red pepper.
Don’t be discouraged if your tortilla falls apart when you try to turn it, it takes practice, and it still tastes great broken, too.