Tortilla Time

One of summer’s most satisfying tasks is digging up new potatoes – especially if (as here), my grandson is there to share in the excitement. Turning over the soil, spotting the smooth yellow ovals and pouncing on them is about as good as fetching warm brown eggs from their nests in the hen house. And new potatoes – with eggs – spells tortilla.

Here’s a recipe from my daughter – it took about 5 years’ instruction from her madrileña mother-in-law before she was declared fit to make a tortilla worthy of the name. I think it’s one of the best. New potatoes work beautifully – use up any that got inadvertently speared in the digging and aren’t quite presentable enough for polite company. If it’s not the season for new potatoes (aka newpers), choose a firm, waxy potato, the kind you’d use for potato salad or Rösti. Around here it would be Charlotte, Nicola, Mona Lisa, Amandine – French potatoes have such deliciously sexy names.

Serve tortilla, glistening and golden, straight from the pan, with a little salad (tomato and basil?). Or let it get cold, then refrigerate it and plan a picnic. Spread yourself (and your tortilla) out on a rug, factor in some vine-ripened tomatoes and a bottle of rosado and you’re all set for summer.


Serves 3-4
700g new potatoes, or firm waxy potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
6 large eggs
salt and pepper

  • Peel potatoes (if using new potatoes, no need to peel them), quarter and slice them thickly, or cut in smallish pieces
  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 25cm-diameter non-stick frying pan till shimmering
  • Tip in potatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and fry potatoes over gentle heat till tender and lightly golden (15-20 minutes) – stir from time to time to make sure they don’t burn
  • Set a metal colander over a metal bowl, tip the potatoes into the colander, reserve the oil
  • Spoon about 1 tablespoon reserved oil into the pan and fry the sliced onion till golden, stirring occasionally
  • Lift onion out with a slotted spoon and add it to the potatoes
  • Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl with salt and pepper and beat well till frothy
  • Stir the fried onions and potatoes into the eggs, mixing well
  • Put the pan back on the heat and add 1 tablespoon reserved oil  – shake the pan to distribute the oil evenly and let it get good and hot again
  • Tip in the egg mixture and cook till the underside is done and the edges start to get frilly – about 5 minutes – you can tell when the bottom is ready when the tortilla will move about in the pan if you shake it vigorously
  • Place a flat lid or plate on top of the tortilla and invert the tortilla out onto the lid/plate
  • Return the pan to the heat, add a little more oil if necessary to film the bottom, then slide/shunt the tortilla back into the pan
  • Cook till the second side is done, tucking in the edges of the tortilla so it sits nice and plump in the pan – don’t overdo this second side or the tortilla will be dry; 3-4 minutes should suffice
  • When it’s done, slide the tortilla out onto a plate or board and let it cool
  • Cut in wedges or squares and serve warm – or refrigerate and serve cold

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