Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spanish Tortilla And John Olsen

Potatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil and eggs.  That pretty much sums up a Spanish tortilla. Somehow the parts make up a very delicious whole.  I have been perusing the John Olsen A Recipe for Art book again, and found his instructions for this dish.  It says to take diced potatoes and onions (no garlic, no quantities) and cook in olive oil till soft. Then you crack 8 eggs, and add the eggs and potato mixture to a clean pan and cook till brown on the bottom.  Then you stick it in the grill to get brown on top too.  Plenty of room for interpretation there you could say:=)

I have sometimes used a recipe for tortilla from Bon Appetit magazine (no, I don't separate the eggs and whisk the whites separately as they do), but over time I have worked out my own way to make this.  And it is pretty darn tasty.  So here is my version of tortilla; still a wee bit laborious so get hubby to chop the potatoes and onions like I do.  Yep, sure, you can borrow him.


Serves 6-8:


1 kg. potatoes, diced into bite-sized chunks

500 mLs. (2 cups) extra virgin olive oil

2 large red onions (500g. approx.), finely chopped 

3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced

8 large eggs

salt and pepper to taste


Tip the potato chunks into a large frypan

Pour in the olive oil over the veg.

Warm up the pan on medium heat

Cover with a lid, reduce to medium-low and cook for 20 mins.

Now add the onions and garlic and cook for another 18 mins.

Let it cool for 5 mins. then tip the mixture into a colander which has been placed over a large bowl; you want to keep the oil!

While the veg. mixture is cooling, whisk 8 eggs in a large bowl

Tip the potatoes etc. into the eggs and stir in gently

Season with salt and pepper to taste

Grab an oven-proof skillet (large) and pour in 2.5 tbs of the reserved oil

Heat it up for a couple of minutes, swirl the oil around the pan, then add the potato/egg mixture

Cook for about 8 mins. till the bottom is nicely browned

Place the whole thing into a 180C oven and bake for about 25 minutes till browned and set - it will puff up so make sure your skillet is big enough

Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a minute or 2 

Cut into big wedges and serve with a green salad

Equally delicious cold the next day, and makes great picnic food


I used a mix of oils; mostly olive oil but a bit of peanut oil added in

I heated up a baking tray, then put the skillet on that in the oven as I was worried it might spill.  Came close:=)

Don't worry that the onion will look a nasty, virulent shade of blue-green the next day; no worries, fine to eat, just close your eyes

Use the reserved oil over the next couple of weeks; it will add a great taste to savoury dishes

peeled and diced 

ready for the pan 

oil starting to bubble

deliciously soft

golden brown and crunchy on top  

tasty my dears

John Olsen says he lived in Spain in the late 1950s on $14 a week! I don't think you'd get by for half a day on that now.  I just have to tell you how I first came across tortilla. When I was a wee young thing at Monash University I studied Spanish with a wonderful lady from Argentina.  She invited the class over to her house one night where we all indulged in some Spanish dishes and wine.  I may just have turned 18 so yes legal:=) There I tried this dish for the first time and fell in love.  I haven't made it often, but it is always a hit. And I still have the recipe booklet she gave us after all these years.



  1. This has me drooling! Would not mind a huge slice right now. I am sure no-one could survive as a traveller on $14 a day now.

    1. Wouldn't it be marvellous to only spend $14?:).

  2. This dish was amazingly tasty. Surprising really with only four ingredients. And yes hubbies are good at chopping evenly matched potato pieces!

    1. Hello mr P! What a clever little chopper you are.

  3. Hi Sherry, the combination of egg and potatoes is surprisingly tasty. Oh to be able to live on $14 a week. I think those days are long behind us.


    1. Hi deb
      Yes indeed long gone. How marvellous it must have been for a young Aussie artist to go abroad and discover a whole new way of living. And the food!:)


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