Tortilla de Espinacas – Spanish Omelet with Spinach – Recipe

Tortilla De Espinacas - Spanish Omelet with Spinach
Tortilla de Espinacas – Spanish Omelet with Spinach

When we had our first kiddo, family and friends helped out by bringing over food, doing laundry, and generally making it so we could stay in our pajamas and figure out how the heck to be parents. It was wonderful. Seriously, if you have the opportunity to do that for a someone you know, they will never forget it.

Our neighbor Catherine brought over her tortilla, and it was so good that we asked for the recipe and have made it many times since. If you haven’t had it, a Spanish tortilla is nothing like a Mexican tortilla. In Spain, a tortilla is a thick potato and egg omelet, usually served at room temperature or cool as an appetizer (tapa). It also makes a fine light meal, much like a quiche or fritatta.

The most common tortilla uses sliced potatoes and no other vegetables. Catherine and husband Martin met on a study abroad program in Spain, and later went back to teach English. They brought home this variation, known as tortilla de espinacas, that uses cubed potatoes and adds spinach. It adds a whole additional dimension of flavor and texture that I love. I’ve added a bit of smoked paprika just because that’s how I roll.

Tortilla de Espinacas
Vegetarian, Gluten Free and Kosher
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetizer (tapa) 

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups peeled and cubed waxy potatoes (about 5 smallish potatoes)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or more if you want it to be a pronounced flavor, not just a background hint)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach (one standard package), thawed and well drained
  • For garnish: minced parsley, flaky sea salt
  1. Put the olive oil in a 10″ non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes begin to soften, but don’t let them brown. Add the onion, garlic and smoked paprika and continue to cook until the potatoes are fully tender but definitely not falling apart.
  2. Stir together the eggs, spinach and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Mix the potatoes into the eggs. Wipe the skillet clean and add a bit more olive oil. Raise the heat to medium high, allow the oil to get quite hot, then add the egg mixture to the skillet.
  3. Allow to cook at this high temperature for about 10 seconds to make sure the outer layer of eggs set instead of stick, then reduce heat to low and cook the tortilla until it is mostly set and bubbles are appearing on the top surface. If it isn’t setting, raise heat slightly. Remove from the heat and cover with a plate. Working very carefully with oven mits or towels, flip the tortilla onto the plate and then slide it back into the skillet. Cook for about 5 more minutes, then once again carefully invert onto a serving plate. Allow to cool and firm up for at least 15 minutes before serving at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cool, garnished with minced parsley and a bit of flaky sea salt.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, February 27th, 2012 in Appetizers, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Main Courses.

30 Responses to “Tortilla de Espinacas – Spanish Omelet with Spinach – Recipe”

  1. February 27, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I didn’t know this was a Spanish tortilla, my grandmother use to make this often for us when we were kids. It was a common breakfast in her home (she made it from night before leftover potatoes). During the summer, she would add tomatoes on the top. I often make this meal too, but I bake it in the oven and sometimes add cheese on the top. Interesting post Michael! It brought so many good memories too…

  2. J-step
    February 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Looks great, what’s the quenelle of pink stuff next to the Spanish Tortilla in the photo? I didn’t see any mention of it in the recipe.

    • February 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      I was wondering if someone would ask. Mayonnaise flavored with a healthy amount of smoked paprika (to taste, no measurement). A bit of lemon juice would be good too.

  3. Nancy
    February 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Michael, I’m so excited to try this recipe! My husband and I had a wonderful trip to Spain last October and, being a fussy vegetarian, I ate more than my share of Tortilla Espanola. Thanks for the version with spinach. Nancy

  4. February 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    I din’t know this is called Spanis Tortilla, I prepare something on similar lines and call it potato omelette. Will give this a try too.

  5. February 28, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    I was just about to ask but J-step beat me to it. We just went to Spain last year and found some wonderful vegetarian eats like this in Barcelona and Madrid… PS – I really enjoyed the intro. :)

  6. February 28, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Looks great! It’s always nice to get some ideas on vegetarian options to try while traveling. Check out my blog — withoutbacon.wordpress.com — for some great vegetarian options at top restaurants, mostly in New York, but also elsewhere in the US and around the world (Belgium & Paris coming up).

  7. February 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    WOw this looks really delicious. This was probably one of my favorite dishes while in Spain. I have to say that I have never tried to recreate it but I will have to make your recipe for sure.

  8. eva @VegucatingMyKids
    February 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    i made this recipe today!…we happened to have a Spanish Tapas dinner party this past Saturday…however, all the dishes were per my weekend chef’s (husband) hands, and he has a tendency to be liberal with meat, cheese and oils…i was eyeing his tortilla he was making and it was lovely–again, just not my style…then i see your recipe come up through my email, and voila! it was kismet-now i could have my own version–which is is just easy on the oils…i also dropped the 6 eggs to 4….but that’s it!…lovely dish…love the inclusion of spinach!

  9. Ellie P.
    March 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Mmmm. I also studied abroad in Spain in college. As a vegetarian, I ate almost nothing but tortilla de patatas there, but I still love it. It’s a staple in our house–we even bought a flipping plate that matches the size of our large frying pan.

    I love making it with a bit of zucchini in the summer, but I haven’t tried spinach. Thanks for the idea!

    Leftover tortilla is also great on bocadillos (packable baguette sandwiches–maybe with a bit of manchego cheese and tomato.)

    • March 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Mmm, yeah, Txori (which I miss) used to serve tortilla on bocadillos with mayo. Yummy. I like the idea of manchego and tomato, that sounds great!

  10. March 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    I love the looks of this. I’m so into spinach with eggs and I’ve been wanting to make a tortilla for ages. How lucky you had a neighbor to bring this to you.

  11. susan
    March 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    What’s the difference between this and a fritatta exactly? Just the way the potatoes are mixed in vs. layered? We eat fritattas once a week and I love the idea of saving a little time of just tossing the potatoes in, but might miss the crispy potato crust. As usual, awesome recipe.

    • March 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      Besides country of origin I would say that a frittata has a less definite definition. It seems to hold almost anything, and potatoes are only one of many options. A tortilla, on the other hand, almost always involves potatoes and a good amount of olive oil, and the vast majority of the time has no other vegetables and has thinly sliced taters. (This recipe is the exception, which is why I thought it was worth publishing… the standard Spanish tortilla has been pretty thoroughly explicated at this point). Also, the potatoes are generally not browned. But yes, both are members of that large family of oven-or-stovetop baked egg dishes with so many wonderful options.

  12. John
    March 6, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Delicious! I found it difficult to cook the potatoes without browning them a LITTLE, but that made for decent flavor. As a quicker and sure-to-not-brown alternative, I’ll bet you could pre-cook them in the microwave (and perhaps warm the spinach as well, to speed the warming-up of the eggs). My only changes in re-doing the recipe would be (a) a little more smoked paprika (maybe mine’s getting old!) and (b) sprinkling the paprika over the potatoes and stirring to distribute; when I put it in the beaten eggs, it clumped up and was hard to distribute evenly. I really liked using the cubed potatoes rather than sliced ones — it made mixing/distrubting the egg/spinach stuff much easier.

  13. March 11, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Michael, this was delish. Just wanted to give you some feedback. Fresh spinach works well and tastes delicious. I used two pans; the first to wilt down the fresh spinach, and cook the potatoes with the garlic and onions. The second pan (cast-iron) was used to cook the tortilla. I would recommend using a non-stick pan to cook the tortilla. I used a well seasoned cast iron and it still stuck =(. My Spanish friends routinely cook the potatoes in the microwave to make the dish healthier before adding it to the egg mixture, although I love the olive oil. LOVE the smoked paprika mayo (curry powder is equally tasty in mayo).

    • March 11, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      Hey Nilam – good deal! I’m all for using fresh spinach, though I think by the time they are cooked, there isn’t necessarily a whole lot of taste or nutrition difference. So whichever is most convenient is quite appropriate. And I agree, unless you *know* your cast-iron skillet is so well seasoned that it won’t stick, teflon is a safer choice. Good tip on the microwave, though I’m with you I like the taste of the olive oil

  14. Michelle
    March 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Michale, I just made this tonight for dinner with the following modifications: boiled the potatoes, then added a bunch of chopped asparagus at the last minute. Blanched all with cold water. Sauteed onion, garlic and mushrooms, then tossed in the potatoes and asparagus with a bit of smoked hot paprika. Sauteed all until warm. Added the eggs and salt, cooked as directed.

    OMG. It was soooooooo good. My husband says it was the best meal he’s ever had. Thanks so much for a simple dinner meal.

    • March 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      That sounds like a terrific variation! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Kelly
    July 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Just found your blog and I love it! I am actually a vegetarian living in Spain and I’ve never seen this version of tortilla but it looks delicious (and it’s a nice break from the usual)! This is a great dish for summer and I would definitely suggest eating it with some salmorejo (similar to gazpacho). It makes an amazing, make ahead meal great for those summer days when it gets up to 120 degrees in Sevilla!!! Thanks for all your great recipes, can’t wait to start trying them out! ; -)

    • July 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      Ooh, that brings back memories… the only time I’ve been in Sevilla, it was indeed *roasting* hot, and we were staying in a cheap hotel with no A/C. Loved the city though. I have this memory of a tiny shop that sold sherry infused with orange peel that was quite amazing. Any idea if that is still there?

  16. Kelly
    July 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Hmm….not sure, I’ve never had infused sherry before but it sounds good! There is a bar near the cathedral that sells a really great sweet orange wine, though…..I would definitely recommend it! I’ll keep my eye out for your sherry!!! ;-)

    • July 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Oh, I bet that is it! If you ever find the name of it, please tell me!

  17. Olga
    August 3, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    We make it with green asparagus and onion, delicious!
    Or zucchini and onion.
    We even sometimes do them with crisps instead of proper potatoes!
    By the way, it’s espinacaS ;)
    or that’s how we’ve always said it in Barcelona.
    Wonderful blog!

    • August 3, 2012 at 8:30 am #

      I’ve seen a video of Ferran Adria doing tortilla with potato chips I believe, so you are in good company! Google seems divided on whether to call it “.. de espinaca” or “… de espinacas”; I think I’ll change it. Thanks for that!

  18. John
    May 22, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    We keep making this, and I keep loving it. After a year’s experience, I can report

    (a) It may not be authentic, but if you let the potato cubes get a little browned, it’s still really good.

    (b) The amounts don’t matter a lot. To make a 1.5 recipe, I double the spinach, leave the potatoes the same and use 1.5 times the eggs. Seems to work fine.

    (c) For frozen spinach, getting the water out’s a lot easier if you microwave it until it’s warm but not hot, and then put it in a strainer and push it with your fingers to squeeze out water. If you cook it all the way to hot, this burns your fingers.

    (d) You can cook the potatoes, then add the onions and garlic, and then pour the egg/spinach mix over them in the pan and stir around a bit, and it still works, at least in a well-seasoned cast-iron frying pan. This saves one step of transferring stuff back and forth. although it results in a slightly less even mix.

    Anyhow, it’s an absolute favorite in our household. It’d also be a great “college student” dish, I’d think — few ingredients, stovetop cooking, easy cleanup. What’s not to love?

    • May 22, 2013 at 6:46 am #

      I love all of these refinements and simplifications… little details like these can greatly streamline a favorite dish.

  19. September 11, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Hi, I prepared this recipe and we love it too. Also posted about it. thanks for sharing :)

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