What Is Spanish Tortilla?
For some reason I used to think that Spanish Omelette (or Tortilla) was an omelette made with loads of Spanish style ingredients like peppers and chorizo. Until I met Pablo…
Pablo and I worked in an Italian restaurant together for a little while and when he asked me if I had ever sampled his native dish, he described it as “Omelette made with French Fries…” [eyebrow raise] I was not at all impressed and my face obviously said so because he insisted it was much nicer than he had made it sound and promised to make one for me to try the next day.
He was true to his word and he was right, it was delicious!
Spanish Omelette is a beautifully simple dish made of two basic ingredients; Fried Potato and Egg. Sometimes Onion is added, a decision I wholeheartedly support!
This Is Not Spanish Tortilla
So why am I calling it Spanish Tortilla when it is neither Spanish nor Tortilla?
Because this is one of my favourite meals and it was inspired by the traditional recipe which deserves recognition, I think (even if they do only have one ingredient in common!).
In Spain it is usually known as Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette).
The basic recipe is to fry diced potato until golden brown, adding the onions towards the end and then mixing with seasoned beaten egg and cooking as you would any omelette.
I no longer eat eggs (unless I know the chicken personally) so how can you make an omelette without breaking any eggs?
The answer is Chickpeas. A fantastic ingredient that strangely works as an egg replacement in some very eggcentric recipes (which came first, the chickpea or the egg? sorry.. couldn’t resist! 😄).
You may have heard of something called aquafaba, which is a fancy French way of saying “bean water” and is literally the water left over from cooking chickpeas (or the water from a can of chickpeas) which amazingly can be whisked up like egg whites and used to make meringues, marshmallows and all sorts of other frothy treats. A revolutionary ingredient for vegans! (try it, you’re only going to tip it down the drain otherwise)
But I digress. This recipe is about chickpea flour, sometimes known as Gram flour, Besan or Garbanzo flour (cheaper versions are mixed with split peas). It can be found in most supermarkets, health shops, Asian shops or online. A really great ingredient to have in your cupboard.
- Gram Flour – 1/4 cup per person (that’s about 50g so I would use about 1/2 cup or 100g for two of us.
- Seasoning – Salt and pepper are a must, you can use Black Salt or Kalal namak to add an egg-like flavour. You can really add any herbs and spices you like but I prefer to keep it simple, I sometimes add a little bit of Nutritional yeast.
- Water – 120-150ml
- Potato – 1 or 2 medium to large potatoes is usually enough.
- Onion – 1 medium to large size.
- Nettles – A (gloved) handful is enough, just pick the tips of the plant before it has flowered.
- Wild Garlic Leaves – A bunch of freshly picked Wild Garlic, I think I used 10-15 leaves.
- Olive Oil – A good quality Olive Oil is best but use whatever you have. Use enough to cover the bottom of the pan. *see notes
You don’t have to be exact with measurements, I rarely measure anything but have worked out some rough quantities just to give you an idea.
- Preheat the oven to about 190°C (if using the oven *see notes)
- Wash the potatoes, I prefer not to peel them as they taste better (and it’s less work!) but give them a good scrub and cut off any bad bits, trapped dirt etc (you can peel them if you really want to but know that I disapprove! 😉)
- Dice the potatoes into fairly small cubes. You can, of course, cut them however you like but I find this is the quickest and easiest way to cook them.
- Heat the oil over a medium to high heat in a frying pan or oven-proof dish. *see notes
- Add the chopped potatoes to the hot oil and cook stirring occasionally to brown
- Chop the onion -I dice them quite small but do whatever you like- add them to the pan as the potatoes begin to brown.
- Add the gram flour to a medium size mixing bowl and stir in the seasoning you are using. Add the water just a little at a time until you have a very thick batter with just enough movement to give it a really good beating to get the lumps out. I use a balloon whisk but a hand-held electric whisk or wooden spoon will suffice (this is a good tip for whenever you are mixing flour and liquid, beat out the lumps while it’s still thick).
- Once you have a smooth paste you can gradually mix in enough water to make quite a runny batter. Similar to the consistency you would want for crepes.
- Chop the Nettles and Garlic leaves, I lightly blanched the Nettles by pouring boiling water over them in a colander just so they would mix in well and not be too crispy.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop the onion and potato into the bowl, leaving the oil in the pan and putting it back over a medium heat while you add the leaves and mix everything together quickly.
- Pour the mixture into the hot oil and use the back of a spoon to even it out a bit.
- Cook over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes before either transferring to oven or attempting a flip.
- Cook for a further 10-15 minutes.
Delicious on its own as a snack or add baked beans, salad etc for a hearty meal.
Oil: A lot of recipes call for deep frying the potato but then you have to pour out the excess oil and strain it for reuse which is a bit of a hassle. I find it works fine with a shallow fry as long as you stir it regularly. The oil left in the pan is a good amount for frying the mixture but if it looks too much pour a little out.
Cooking Method: When I first started making this, I would cook it on the stove in a non-stick frying pan and then flip it by sliding it onto a plate, putting the upside down frying pan over the top and flipping everything over… Quite a palaver! And rather a hit or miss process with a high risk of burnt fingers, oil stains and dinner on the floor.
I now start it on the stove in a cast iron skillet or any pot/pan that can go into the oven to finish off.
This is not going to be the same as you would expect from an omelette or Tortilla, the texture is much firmer than if you use eggs but to be honest I actually prefer this. The traditional Spanish Tortilla is served while the eggs are still quite sloppy.
I really like it and I hope you will too.
You can use any wild greens you fancy or indeed any other ingredients; Enjoy Experimenting!
Please do leave a comment below to let me know what you thought of it or if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading