You can find tortillas, or Spanish omelets, served in slices at room temperature in the streets of Paris. In New York city, small plates of tapas have become increasingly popular amidst the restaurant scene. After some google searches, I’ve also found out that Spanish omelets are among the most popular dishes offered in bars, as well as in homes, in the Basque country. All that piques my curiosity about this David Lebovitz’s recipe of potato, feta and basil tortilla.
Tortillas like this one are popular for good reasons. Since they use the everyday staples of potatoes and eggs, they can be whipped up in short order. The whole omelet can be cut up and served as a light entrée with a green salad. Or they can be used as small plates of appetizer. Either way, they look inviting. Just the perfect morsels of nourishment, ideal for parties and picnics too. I’m keen to make the dish.
I made the potato, feta and basil tortilla twice and would likely continue to do so until I get it right. So far, I haven’t. First, I made a plain version with green and purple basil, fresh from my backyard garden. In addition, a good amount of the sweet and spicy smoked paprika. Then I made a version using chorizo, following David’s suggestion. There are other ingredients I think would do well in the tortilla: onions, veggies or smoked fish. Nonetheless, the idea of a potato omelet is appealing. It is like a blank canvas that invites creative engagement.
I don’t know whether I’d characterize this dish as easy to do. First of all, I followed the recipe closely in my first attempt. “Cook the 3/4-inch potato cubes in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender and cook through, 12 to 15 minutes.” It didn’t take long to realize that the tortilla was overcooked and on the side of dry and spongy. Furthermore, inverting the finished tortilla in a piping hot and heavy cast-iron skillet is dicey. Can’t stop thinking about: Is it really necessary to flip the tortilla? Why not leave it as it is in the pan?
The second attempt with the chorizo looked promising, so I thought. However, I found patches of darkened and burnt pieces on the bottom. They were serviceable, but not without flaws. It seems like cooking eggs can be tricky. Well, duh! In conclusion, I need more practice to make these Spanish omelets the iconic dishes that they are.
I’m linking this post to Cook-the-book-Fridays where other enthusiastic home cooks are cooking through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, one recipe at a time. Join in for the fun and happy cooking!
Potato, Feta and Basil TortillaPrint Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound (450g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch (2cm) cubes
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
- 6 scallions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
- 9 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon piment d'Espelette or sweet or smoked paprika
- 2 cups (40g) loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (120g) very coarsely crumbled feta cheese
- [OPTIONAL] 1 cup cubed Spanish chorizo or another cooked spiced sausage
Heat the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add the potato cubes and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through, 12-15 minutes.
A few minutes before the potatoes are done, add the scallions and cook until they're wilted.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you're using a nonstick skillet, the highest temperature recommended is usually around 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix the eggs in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sweet paprika. Stir the basil into the eggs and pour the mixture over the potatoes in the skillet.
Crumble the feta over the potatoes and press the pieces down gently with a spoon. Cook the tortilla until the bottom is golden brown and well set, rotating the pan from time to time as it cooks for 15-20 minutes. Don't check it too soon, or you may break the crust.
When the crust is browned, slide the skillet into the oven and let it cook until the eggs are set, about 5 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven. Set a baking sheet or serving plate on top of the skillet then flip both the baking sheet and the skillet simultaneously, releasing the tortilla from the skillet.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. You can store the tortilla in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz