Tortilla espanola, more commonly known as the Spanish omelet or Spanish tortilla, is a traditional Spanish dish made from eggs and potatoes. It is basically a very thick omelet which is fried in olive oil. The savory dish is an important part of the Spanish cuisine. Sometimes, the preparation is called tortilla in English, but it is not to be confused with the Mexican tortilla.
In Spain, the preparation is commonly known as tortilla de patatas to differentiate it from the traditional omelet, which is known as tortilla francesa or French tortilla. Patatas is the common Spanish word for 'potatoes', but in the few Spanish-speaking regions where potatoes are called papas, the preparation is known as tortilla de papas.
Tortilla de Patatas: History and Origin
Tortilla espanola has been a part of the Spanish culinary culture for centuries. The very first reference to the preparation has been found in a Navarresse document which dates to 1817. It has been explained that due to the sparse condition in which the farmers lived, women prepared big and thick omelets which required less use of eggs. These were made filling by adding potatoes, breadcrumbs and other similar ingredients.
A different theory, however, links the preparation to Carlist General, Tomás de Zumalacárregui, who created it during the Bilbao siege. This was a simple, easy-to-make and nutritious dish which fed the entire Carlist army with very few ingredients. While this theory is largely questionable, there have been texts to support the fact that tortillas did, in fact, start to spread during the time of the early Carlist wars.
Over the years, the dish has evolved and today, there are various variations of it. Not only is this a popular feature on the menus of cafes, eateries and restaurants, but also a common household preparation.
Tortilla Espanola Recipe: Common Ingredients Used
When prepared in the traditional and most basic way, tortilla espanola is made from eggs and potatoes only and it is fried in olive oil; nothing else is added. Depending on tastes and individual preferences, however, more ingredients can be added. Onion is the most commonly added ingredient closely followed by sausages and diced meats. Green peppers, aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms, tomatoes, chorizo, peas and red pepper are often added to the dish to give it more flavor and color.
Instead of in olive oil, the dish can be cooked in vegetable oil or some other fat as per preferences.
Tortilla Espanola Recipe: Preparation Overview
Making the omelet is fairly simple and it takes about 20 to 25 minutes to make it. Frying is the common method of preparation. Depending on the ingredients used, however, the preparation time can somewhat alter. To make tortilla espanola,[ the ingredients are all prepared as required], beaten together with the egg and made into a batter. The batter is then fried till the desired level of doneness is achieved.
Serving and Eating Tortilla de Patatas
The preparation can be served hot or at room temperature. While the preparation is mostly served as an appetizer, it can also be a part of the main course of a major lunch or dinner meal or a snack. In Spain, the omelet is almost always served with bread, pickles (olives and gherkins) on the side. In many cafes and restaurants, tortilla espanola is served in a bocadillo, which is basically a crusty bread sandwich.