During college I made the big move out to Madrid for six months to "study". Upon arrival I took up residence with a lovely Spanish woman named Cecilia and her track-suit wearing 30-something son. Knowing only that I was americana, Cecilia decided to make me feel at home and serve cheese stuffed hotdogs for my first meal. While her intentions were good, the cheese stuffed hot dogs were not. Fortunately for everyone at the table, she also whipped up a little thing known as Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette) as a side. I took one bite and knew that tortilla would not be my last.
If you haven't had the pleasure of tasting one, a Tortilla Española is a typical Spanish dish made up of eggs and potatoes, fried in vegetable oil and served at room temperature. Basic but out of this world when done well.
Any time I come across a tortilla recipe, or its close cousin frittata, I dive right in. Fortunately for me, one of my favorite new cookbook by David Lebovitz, "My Paris Kitchen", features a potato, feta, and basil tortilla. His version is dressed up and much lighter - no bath of oil required to cook it. One ingredient which David wisely suggests as an optional add on is chorizo. While I love a meatless meal, I love chorizo more. So when you consider making this tortilla, think twice about skipping the Spanish chorizo.
Ingredients: Serves 6-8
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound (450g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch (2cm) cubes
- used small yellow potatoes
- 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
- 6 scallions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
- 9 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon piment d'Espelette or sweet or smoked paprika
- 4 cups (40g) loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (120g) very coarsely crumbled feta cheese
- [OPTIONAL] 1 cup cubed Spanish chorizo or another cooked spiced sausage
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Set it and forget it! You'll need this in 10 minutes or so. If you're using a nonstick skillet, the highest temperature recommended is usually around 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat.
I only had a 12-inch cast-iron saute pan to use which did the trick. Just make sure you add a few more eggs (maybe 3-4) to the recipe since you have more space to cover. I didn't and wish I had.
3. Add the potato cubes and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through, 12-15 minutes. I cut my potato cubes a bit too large for my liking so I cooked them for a few minutes longer than suggested.
4. A few minutes before the potatoes are done, add the scallions and cook until they're wilted.
5. Mix the eggs in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the spice you have on hand (I used sweet paprika). Stir the basil into the eggs and pour the mixture over the potatoes in the skillet.
6. Crumble the feta over the potatoes and press the pieces down gently with a spoon. Cook the tortilla until the bottom is golden brown and well set, rotating the pan from time to time as it cooks for 15-20 minutes. If you're an eager beaver and check the crust before that, you may break it.
Best news is, if you check too soon and break the crust, it will still taste excelente. You know your oven best. Some run hotter than others!
7. When the crust is browned, slide the skillet into the oven and let it cook until the eggs are set, about 5 minutes.
8. Remove the skillet from the oven. Set a baking sheet or serving plate on top of the skillet then flip both the baking sheet and the skillet simultaneously, releasing the tortilla from the skillet.
Note: I did not complete this last step. While I lift 3 pound weights from time to time, I'm still not strong (but mostly coordinated) enough to pull off this move with my heavy saute pan. That means all of my pictures are of what is supposed to be the bottom of the tortilla. I however think it's too beautiful to hide!
This is a great dish that really only requires potato and egg - use whatever other vegetables you have on hand and toss it on in. I loved David's version and recommend you take it for a spin as well. Serve it with a side of lightly dressed greens and a glass of white wine.