I love Spanish cuisine. Recently I had the opportunity to learn how to make one of its stars, a “tortilla,” from my Spanish born-and-raised girlfriend Visi. When I arrived at her home I found out I wasn’t the only one dying for a Spanish cooking lesson. Six other enthusiastic cooks were chatting with excitement about making Visi’s “Tortilla de Patata” (Potato Tortilla) a dish it turned out we all loved. Today’s recipe is an appetizer-sized twist on this traditional recipe that Visi brought to my Spanish themed party I recently hosted.
Visi’s Spanish Roots
Visi grew up helping in the family restaurant in Bilbao (Spain’s Basque Country). In her teen years, she spent countless hours cutting potatoes for Tortilla de Patata, a tapa typical to the Spanish Basque region.
The word “tapas” is derived from the word “tapar”, which means, “to cover.” Why? Because tapas were originally small pieces of bread topped with a slice of cured ham that bartenders used to cover your glass of wine, to keep flies out. Today, the concept has evolved to include little dishes of all sorts of hot, cold and marinated foods.
What none of us had realized before we arrived for our Tortilla de Patata lesson was that Visi had prepared an entire tapas meal. Nothing starts an evening better. We dove right into the Marcona almonds, olives and Manchego cheese swimming in a pool tangy olive oil, vinegar, garlic and black peppercorns.
Visi’s Gazpacho with crusty bread croutons was a welcome refresher, with temperatures up in high 90′s that day.
Visi dazzled us too with her baked Hornazo (bread filled with Spanish chorizo) and her own signature, fruity Sangria for us to sip.
After sampling these treats, the lesson began. I helped peel potatoes, which she had me do with a paring knife. She is highly skilled at peeling potatoes. I am not. She peeled & sliced four potatoes to my one. Give me a vegetable peeler and a mandolin any day.
While we were peeling and slicing, Visi was heating up olive in a pan for the potatoes.
When it was hot Visi, a seasoned expert, dropped the potatoes in the hot oil with her hand. Bubbling oil makes me nervous, so I use a slotted spoon.
She added onions, and once they were all cooked, she added them to the whisked eggs with a sprinkling of chili pepper flakes. She spooned the mixture into a mini cupcake pan and broiled them for 5 minutes. She had marinated red peppers ready to top the mini tortillas once they were out of the pan. It made for a beautiful presentation. For a marinated red pepper recipe click here.
- 1¾ cups olive oil for frying
- 1¾ lb. (about 5 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2¼ teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5 extra large eggs
- ⅛ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
- Marinated red bell peppers for topping
- In a 10½-inch nonstick skillet that’s at least 1½ inches deep, heat the oil on medium high.
- While the oil is heating, slice the peeled potatoes thinly, about ⅛ inch. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle on 2 tsp. of the salt, tossing to distribute it well.
- Once the oil is very hot (it will begin to bubble) gently put the potatoes into the oil with a slotted spoon. Fry the potatoes, turning occasionally (trying not to break them) and adjusting the heat so they sizzle but don’t crisp or brown.
- After 5 minutes add the chopped onion to the potatoes.
- Set a colander over a bowl. When the potatoes and onions are tender, after 10 to 12 minutes, transfer them to the colander to drain.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, ¼ tsp. salt, and the chili pepper flakes with a whisk until blended. Add the drained potatoes, onions, and mix gently to combine with the egg.
- Spray a mini cupcake pan with cooking spray. Spoon the tortilla mixture into each cup, filling it to the rim.
- Turn your preheated oven to broil.
- Broil for 3-4 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean with no uncooked egg on it.
- Transfer the mini tortillas to a serving platter and let cool at least 10 minutes.
- Put a toothpick in the center of each mini tortilla and wrap a marinated bell pepper around it.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly cool.
Spain will always have a special place in my heart because I got married in Palma de Mallorca.
Our wedding reception was at a local International School where we were served another favorite Spanish dish of Paella, because the chef at the school was renowned for this most festive local favorite! Good friends had arranged our magical day, one that I will never forget.
When I sample my Mini Spanish Tortilla de Patata or hear the word Paella, I smile a special smile I still smile.
…and then, she paused 4 thought.