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Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't-Exactly-Follow-the-Recipe Spanish Vegetable Tortilla

I love the Spanish tortilla de patatas, which I first learned about in a tapas cooking course I took years ago before anyone knew what tapas were, and assumed you were talking about topless bars if you said something about tapas bars. My second encounter with these tortillas was in Spain, where I found Spanish food to be of wildly uneven quality, except for the tortillas de patatas, which were uniformly excellent.
So I was happy to have this Gutsy Cooks assignment. Except when I noticed that the recipe called for broccoli and peas. Broccoli is Jim's least favorite vegetable--it's the only trait he shares with George Bush the elder. He tolerates it as a vegetable, in its own place on the plate, but if it's mixed in with other ingredients, it pretty much contaminates the whole dish. So I omitted the broccoli. I love fresh peas, but frozen peas....not so much. I gave up on the green vegetables and substituted red peppers, which I sauteed in olive oil instead of boiling.

My stand-by recipe for a Spanish omelet requires you to gently poach sliced potatoes in olive oil. In a LOT of olive oil--like two cups. I didn't do that here, and the omelet suffered for it, in my opinion (although my supply of olive oil wasn't seriously depleted).

And I sliced the potatoes instead of dicing them because I've never eaten a Spanish omelet in Spain that didn't use sliced potatoes. (I've never eaten one with broccoli, either, but I'd already rejected the broccoli for other reasons).
I also didn't have a 9-inch nonstick pan, so I used a 10-inch, which made the omelet too thin. (The traditional Spanish omelet is usually between an inch and a half and two inches tall). My omelet was too thin--more like a frittata than a tortilla.

Here's what I'd do differently next time. I'd just forget about adding vegetables. The red peppers were fine, but really just detracted from the classic potato taste. I'd slice the onions rather than cut them in a fine dice. It's both easier and the onion taste comes through better. I'd use Yukon Gold potatoes, which don't crumble as easily as baking potatoes. I'd use a cup and a half of olive oil to cook the potatoes. (It's not as crazy as it sounds--you end up draining most of the olive oil off, and you can save it for another time). And I'd use my 8-inch nonstick pan, in order to get more height.
Umm, I guess in other words I'd use my original recipe.
This, along with a green salad, was a whole meal for us, so I didn't make the cod in tomato sauce, but I'm hoping to make that later this week.

TASTE-O-METER RATINGS (0 to 10 scale)
Jim: "A 7. I don't dislike it, but I'm not crazy about it either."
Marie: "8. I'd give a different recipe at least a 9, but nothing with potatoes and eggs can be bad."


  1. Marie.. all good points, and I love your variation with the red pepper (but then I love red peppers). Does Jim like coliflower? Because I totally think that will go well as well.

  2. Monica,
    Jim is so-so with cauliflower, but I think it sounds good. It would be a surprise, because you'd just think it was all potato.

  3. I made another tortilla tonight for dinner and took your tip about slicing the potatoes. I must say- I LOVED the texture and the way the potatoes laid evenly in the egg mixture. Much yummier. =)

  4. Steph,
    Oh good--glad you liked the slices. This is such a good supper dish. Even when you think you don't have anything in the house to eat, you almost always have a few eggs, an onion, and a couple of potatoes.