Self-Serve: Simple Spanish Tortilla

Right after college, I moved to Spain for a summer to work as a nanny. Let me clarify, I went to the beach with friends, took boat trips around the island, and practiced my Spanish. When I wasn’t doing those things, I worked as a nanny.

I loved (and still do) working with kids. We played silly games without rules, like me chasing them around the house. We went to the park, played soccer, and danced to Shakira. This part of being a nanny felt good. I knew how to do this part.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the cooking. Coming from the dinner-in-a-box lifestyle of college, I had no clue what actual cooking looked like. I admit it; I hadn’t used an oven before.

The parents were mostly understanding and often gave me the task of ‘preparing the salad’. It’s okay to laugh. It felt slightly demeaning to be put on tomato-slicing duty as their mom prepared a homemade chicken curry with a blended sweet onion sauce. I did however, get really good at making salads (have you seen my post on salads?). In addition, I was able to learn a few tips from her on ‘real’ cooking.

One of the dishes they taught me to make was a traditional Spanish tortilla. Although we use this word to mean the flat, flour/corn bed to pile toppings, in Spain it refers to a type of omelette. The traditional style has few ingredients, yet does not disappoint.

If you haven’t cooked much before, I would recommend this recipe. The only scary part is flipping it, and trust me, even an ugly tortilla tastes delicious!

photo (40)

Recipe: Simple Spanish Tortilla


  • Olive oil (I recommend high quality because yes, it’s better)
  • Eggs
  • Potatoes (Yukon gold are my favorite to use, but any will work)
  • Sweet yellow onions
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Adjust the amount of ingredients according to the size you’d like to make. For the tortilla size in my photo, I used 8 eggs, 2 large potatoes, 1 onion, and 4 garlic cloves.

  1. Chop the garlic and toss it in the skillet with some olive oil. While this cooks, thinly slice the potatoes.
  2. Add the potatoes to the hot skillet and add enough olive oil to fill the bottom of the pan. Thinly slice the onions.
  3. Stir the potatoes and allow them to cook on medium-high heat. While they cook, crack eggs into a mixing bowl and add the spices. I like to use plenty of sea salt and pepper in this dish. Whip the eggs thoroughly and quickly (this step was shown to me put some kick into your whipping!).
  4. Once the potatoes have cooked for a few minutes, add in the sliced onions.
  5. After the potatoes are fully cooked (test by seeing if a fork breaks one piece), drain the extra oil into a glass container.
  6. With the potatoes and onions in the skillet, add the egg mixture. Stand back and allow it to cook on medium heat. Do not stir the mixture. Depending on the size of the tortilla and your stove, this could take 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the outer edges are clearly cooked and beginning to curl in. Expect some liquid on the top layer.
  7. Warning: scary step ahead! You may want to grab a friend and/or some oven mitts (or lucky socks, if that’s your thing). Holding the skillet with one hand, place a plate upside-down over the top of the skillet. In one swift movement, flip it over to the plate. Do this over the sink in case some of the liquid escapes (it will).
  8. Set the skillet back down. Gently slide the tortilla back into the skillet, allowing the uncooked juices to glide underneath.
  9. Give it about half the time to cook that you gave the other side. You can use a spatula to lift it up and see if the bottom has cooked through.
  10. For plating, you can gently slide it again back on a dish.

In Spain, these are often served at room temperature. I like them hot, cold, and everything in between! You can serve them as an appetizer, in slices. It is also common to serve them in between thick, baguette bread, topped with cheese and tomato slices.

Try it out, and let me know what you think!

(Additional ingredients could include: mushrooms, basil, tomatoes, asparagus, chorizo, spinach, red peppers)

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