Tortilla Española

One of most popular food in the Spanish speaking Caribbean is a tortilla (pronounced: tor-tee-jah) But to us this is very different from the common Mexican-style tortilla. In Mexico, a tortilla is a flat bread; actually a flat thin cake made of corn or flour. Mexican corn tortillas are commonly eaten throughout America and Europe as tortilla chips. They are the mainstay of such dishes as enchiladas, tostadas, and flautas. What we know as the popular "taco" is usually made with a corn tortilla, a staple not only of Mexican cuisine but of Tex-Mex food as well.

A Spanish tortilla is different altogether. It is a round omelet-like egg dish originating in Spain. It is normally made with beaten eggs, pieces of potatoes and other ingredients such as bell peppers, onions and chives. The dish is cooked slowly in a little oil, and served hot or cold. In the Rivera family we have always referred to Spanish tortilla as just a plain Spanish omelet; and we've kept the same family recipe for generations.Only difference is we omit the potatoes. Don't ask me why. That's the way my mother has always prepared it.

So, here follows our version of the Tortilla Española  (or Spanish omelet). It's from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Thunders Mouth Press)


1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium  sweet red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
8 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Heat oil in  large non-stick frying pan or skillet. Add onions, green and red peppers and garlic. Stir-fry over moderate heat until vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes).
2. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes more.
3. In a bowl, beat eggs lightly and add salt, pepper and oregano.
4. Add eggs to vegetables and cook over moderate-high heat, letting the eggs set in the bottom and sides of the pan.
5. When the eggs start to brown, reduce heat to low and cook until upper part is dry.
6. Here you have a choice, either:
     A. Run a spatula or knife around the outside of the tortilla. Place  a large serving plate over the pan and     quickly flip the tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla back into the frying pan and cook until set on the other side (about 10 minutes).
     B. Place tortilla pan under the broiler and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. (Be sure the pan has an oven-proof handle).
7. Serve the tortilla cut into wedges as you would a pie.
     Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
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