This ubiquitous tapas fav has various origin stories, arguably making its first appearance during the early 19th century in Bilbao as a meal to feed Tomás de Zumalacárregui’s army.
Not to be confused with a Mexican tortilla, the tortilla Española is named because of its resemblance to a little cake, or torta. In actuality, this is an omelet that is a mainstay in kitchens, bars, and restaurants throughout Spain. Sometimes called tortilla de patatas, or little potato cake, this omelet traditionally contains potatoes sautéed in olive oil, eggs, and oftentimes, onion. There are variations from region-to-region that add seafood or various vegetables, but the base is always potatoes, eggs, a bit of salt, and olive oil.
Once the salted potatoes and onions have sautéed in the olive oil for about 30 minutes, they are removed from the stove and placed in a large bowl. You should have about 4 or 5 cups of cooked potatoes and onions. Whip 5 or 6 eggs until frothy and add to the potato mixture. In a cast iron skillet, heat up 2 teaspoons of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then pour in your mixture. Once the eggs begin to set, place a large plate over the pan and flip the tortilla onto the plate. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and slide the tortilla cooked side up into the pan. Continue cooking 3-5 minutes, tucking the edges under to form a dome shape.
Flip the cooked tortilla onto a serving plate and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
Serve warm or cool with a salad and a glass of red wine as a light meal. Spaniards also sandwich the tortilla between two slices of bread for a hearty portable lunch.