You’ve probably heard of the classic Spanish potato omelet, tortilla de patatas, a.k.a. Tortilla Española. They serve this delicious, yet super-simple, dish in every tapas bar in Spain and often eat it as a light lunch at home.
There are as many version of tortilla as there are cooks. Some like it flat, frittata-style; others (including me), prefer it to be at least an inch thick, allowing the inside to remain nice and moist. Some folks add cubed chorizo or bacon, herbs, roasted peppers or peas, others consider using anything other than onions, potatoes and eggs sacrilegious.
Some like it firmly set (ideal for picnics and lunchboxes), others serve it barely cooked, with wobbly interiors (our Spanish-French babysitter, who taught me how to make the classic Spanish tortilla many years ago, said the center should be baveux — literally: slobbery or slimy.)
Some insist on flipping the tortilla with the help of a plate in mid-cooking (I have many unhappy memories of attempting this maneuver), others use double-sided skillets to facilitate the flip. (I do neither; instead, I have chosen the low-adrenaline option of baking it in the oven like a quiche and, once set and cooled for a few minutes, tipping it upside down on a serving plate. To the untrained eye, it looks exactly the same as a flipped tortilla.)
I have taken the recipe an audacious step further by swapping out the sliced potatoes (gasp!) with kohlrabi and rutabaga, two woefully under-appreciated winter root vegetables. Why would I commit such heresy?
As members of the cruciferous vegetable family, kohlrabi and rutabaga boast significant health benefits: fiber, calcium, vitamin C, isothiocyanates, and glucosinolates – plant compounds linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, inflammation and improved brain function. (Click on links to learn more about the health benefits of kohlrabi and rutabaga.) And to my delight, these two humble root veggies become sweet and tender when braised in olive oil, making them acceptable even to the pickiest supertaster (and 5-year-old) — unlike many of their cruciferous cousins (looking of you, Brussels sprouts, kale and turnip greens).
Since I’m breaking every tortilla taboo by adding non-approved root vegetables I decided to add insult to injury by including some cubed chorizo to deepen the flavors — not the fresh, Mexican kind, but cured Spanish chorizo (something like this brand; I buy these at World Market and usually keep a sweet and a spicy chorizo in my fridge to add to stews, soups, paellas or tortillas. I prefer it to bacon, not least because it’s made without added nitrates or nitrites; just pork, paprika, salt, garlic and natural casing).
If you’re not a fan of crucifers, you can, of course, use potatoes in this recipe (I like firm-cooking potatoes like Yukon Gold which hold their shape nicely even when thinly sliced). Using potatoes will increase the carbohydrate content of this dish, but since carbs combined with protein and fat have a significantly lower impact on blood sugar that “naked” carbs (carbs eaten on their own, for instance, a baked potato eaten as-is), I wouldn’t worry too much about the glycemic impact of using potatoes.
Tortilla Espanola with root vegetables
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion halved and thinly sliced cross-wise
- 6 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 2 oz Spanish chorizo finely diced; I used this brand; omit for vegetarian version
- 3 medium kohlrabi peeled & thinly sliced (I use a mandolin like this one)
- 1 large rutabaga peeled & thinly sliced (I use a mandolin like this one)
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 8 eggs
- ½ cup parsley coarsely chopped
- Warm the olive oil in a 9-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, garlic, cubed chorizo, kohlrabi and rutabaga. Sprinkle with about ½ tsp salt and the black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring gently every 5 minutes (set timer). Uncover for the last minute to let any excess moisture evaporate.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- While the vegetables are cooking, crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ¼ tsp salt and chopped parsley and whisk with a fork to combine.
- Once the vegetables are soft (prick with a paring knife to test), remove from the heat and tip them carefully into the egg mixture. Gently stir to combine.
- Return the skillet to the stovetop on medium heat and pour the egg-vegetable mixture back into it (if the skillet is dry, add ½ tbsp olive oil). Smooth the surface of the egg-vegetable mixture with a spatula and slide into the preheated oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes. The tortilla is done if the edges are risen and the center is set but still slightly jiggly.
- Remove from the oven and set on a heat-proof surface for 5 minutes. Place an upturned serving plate on top of the skillet, grab both with the help of kitchen towels or pot holders and carefully but swiftly turn the omelet onto the plate.
- This tortilla tastes delicious hot, warm or cold. I like to serve it with a side of lightly dressed mixed greens and a dollop of red-pepper sauce -- either home-made or Trader Joe's delicious red pepper spread with eggplant & garlic (not to be confused with TJ's eggplant garlic spread with sweet red peppers, which I don't like as much...).
- Refrigerated in an airtight container this keeps for 4-5 days. Travels well, so makes a great picnic or lunchbox item.