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« Madrid; an unexpected culinary adventure | Main | Tapas no.4: Ensalada Campera from Movida Rustica »

Tapas no.5: Two tortillas


As you may have gathered, I am loving the Movida Rustica book, but one thing I have found is that it tends towards more obscure recipes using unusual or ‘fancy’ ingredients which, apart from being difficult to source, are not fully representative of the type of food one finds in a typical Spanish restaurant. I was surprised, for example, that there is no recipe for tortilla de patatas  or Spanish omelette, a dish that you would have to go very far out of your way to avoid when dining out in Spain, or at least in Andalucia. Fortunately, my host Mum in Seville taught me the tricks of the trade and, although I have still never made one as good as hers, I am getting closer with each try.

The first recipe below is for a traditional Spanish tortilla based on Carmen’s recipe. I asked Carmen why my tortilla was never as good, I talked her through my recipe and at the first step we discovered my main problem; I was cooking the garlic. Carmen puts her garlic in raw, or at least some of it, and WOW does it make a difference. In addition to parboiling her potatoes, Carmen also deep fries them. However, I don’t think this makes a significant difference to the flavour and given this is already a high calorie dish it seems a bit like overkill.

The second recipe is from Movida Rustica, a spinach and white bean tortilla in saffron sauce. I have made this several times now, sometimes substituting asparagus for spinach. I have to admit to being a bit of a traditionalist and still favouring tortilla de patatas, but this is great if you are hosting a tapas themed dinner party and want to impress with something more exotic. 

I don’t have a frypan the right size for this so I have taken to cheating and doing mine in the oven in a cake tin; this is a great trick for those who are find inverting  the tortilla tricky and also for avoiding burning the bottom and the result is basically the same. Also, you don’t need to use a cazuela for the second recipe. I have found it works just as well if you cook the tortilla through a bit more and then put it on a plate with the sauce on top.

Carmen’s tortilla de patatas

Serves 4-6 as part of a tapas selection


300g firm and waxy potatoes, e.g. Desiree, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 eggs
Salt and freshly milled black pepper, to taste


Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender. 

Warm the olive oil in a 20cm heavy based fry pan over a low heat and add half of the garlic. Fry gently for a minute or two until lightly browned. Remove from heat and layer the slices of potato in the pan, sprinkling the leftover raw garlic in a little at a time. 

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Put the fry pan over a medium heat and pour the eggs over the layered potatoes. Using a spatula, gently bring the mixture from the edges of the pan into the middle for the first 30 seconds then turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Invert the tortilla upside down onto a plate or tray, then slide it back into the pan. Cover again and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until firm. If you prefer, you can avoid flipping the tortilla by simply putting it under a hot grill to cook the top (you’ll still need to invert it to get it out of the pan though).

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Truita amb suc – Spinach and white bean tortilla in sauce from Movida Rustica

Makes 6 raciones (main size portions). I would recommend halving this recipe if serving as part of a tapas selection for 4-6 people.


100g (3 ½ oz / ½ cup) cannellini beans, soaked in cold water for 2 hours, then drained
200g (7 oz) picked English spinach leaves (about 1 bunch), washed well and dried
10 eggs
50ml (1 ½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

Saffron sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
A pinch of saffron threads
900ml (30½ fluid oz) chicken stock
1 tablespoon real cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp fine sea salt


Place the drained beans in a saucepan, cover well with water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, to make the saffron sauce, heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and saffron and stir for 1 minute, or until the garlic is very lightly browned. Pour in the stock, being to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the cornflour and 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl until smooth, then stir into the sauce. Add the sea salt and cook, stirring regularly, for 10-12 minutes, or until the cornflour is cooked out and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.

Plunge the spinach into a large saucepan of boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain, refresh in cold water, then squeeze out the excess water and roughly chop. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt to the beans and mix together well.

Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the spinach and bean mixture, season to taste and combine well.

Heat the olive oil in a 25cm (10 inch) non-stick fry pan over a high heat. Pour in the egg mixture and, using a wooden spoon, gently bring the mixture from the edges of the pan into the middle for the first 30 seconds. After 1 minute, reduce the heat to medium, cover with a flat tray and cook for another 3 minutes. Invert the tortilla upside down onto the tray, then slide it back into the pan. Cover with the tray again and cook for another 3 minutes or until firm but not solid.

Meanwhile, preheat a 25cm (10 inch) cazuela or flameproof shallow earthenware dish over low heat for 5 minutes. Place the tortilla in the dish and increase the heat to medium. Pour the saffron sauce over (it should just cover the tortilla) and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 20 minutes, to allow the tortilla to absorb some of the sauce. Serve warm.

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Reader Comments (2)

I have to report my first failure with this recipe -Truita amb suc - Nothing to do with the recipe , or your explanations .Entirely my own sloppy fault . The tortilla bit worked fine - but the sauce - mama mia! I did everything wrong . First I burnt the garlic - i should have thrown it out but it didn't seem as bad as it actually was. I used a stock cube - and on reflection even if I hadn't burned the garlic, the subtle flavour of the saffron would require a reaaly tasty stcok, correct?I'm not sure what it means when the recipe says cook until cornflour is cooked out - the mixture did thicken but I thought it too gluggy. Luckily I didn''t pour it on to the tortilla , it was served as a side sauce , and no one ate it!! I guess I'll have to try again.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMA

Hi Ma - Oh dear, that does sound rather disasterous. You certainly should try it again though as it is wonderful when the suace soaks in. I think you are definitely right that you should use real stock for this and maybe just add a little cornflour at a time till you get the consistency you want. It is not actually my recipe, but from the Movida book, so I'm afraid I really know what "cooked out" means, but I assume it means until it is evenly distributed and incorporated.

February 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterVix

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