A Long Train Ride—and Lazy Spanish Tortilla

A long time ago, several life times it feels, I spent a semester in Florence. In May, after classes ended, my friend Kate and I took the train to Spain. When we tried to get our tickets in Italy, they told us we couldn’t do it. What they meant, was we shouldn’t.

It was a long, long trip, and despite the Nutella we always traveled with, we were exhausted and starving and parched when we arrived. I set off with my Sesame Street Spanish to get us two waters, while Kate went to get us some sustenance. She came back with Spanish tortilla sandwiches—egg, potato, onion on crusty bread. Like I said, I was delirious and famished, so my judgment may have been clouded, but it was the perfect food.

Kate and I tried to make Spanish tortilla for 10 years before we got it right. This was pre-Internet age. There was no All Recipes or Food Network or Google. We relied on our memory and experimentation. We searched the the rare Spanish cookbook. Finally we found the secret—cooking thin slices of potato in oil, almost simmering them until tender.

It uses a lot of oil, and it’s a great thing to make when you are hanging out with friends in the kitchen with a bottle of red, but sometimes I crave it when I don’t have that kind of time or company.

Here’s my lazy version. It would serve nicely if you had just come off a 20+ hour train ride. It would also be lovely with a salad of bitter greens with a simple vinaigrette for lunch or served as part of a spread of tapas with sangria. I enjoyed my most recent one with dark coffee and toast with olive oil. Eat it hot or room temp. It’s delicious either way.

Lazy Spanish Tortilla

6 medium potatoes, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
5 eggs
5 Tbsp (or glugs) of milk
foil
10-inch skillet

  1. Slice the potatoes and onion (a mandolin slicer works well for this).
  2. Oil a large piece of foil. Layer the potatoes and onions in the foil, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper. Drizzle heavily with olive oil and fold up foil to form a closed packet.
  3. Cook the potato/onion packet on the grill until potatoes are soft. Eat some for dinner and save the leftovers for your tortilla.
  4. Beat eggs and milk and set aside.
  5. Heat a skillet and coat lightly with oil. Layer the remaining potatoes/onions in the skillet. Cook for a few minutes to reheat.
  6. Pour the egg mixture over it. Cook until egg starts to firm up. Use a spatula to pull the edge of the egg away from the side. Tip the pan to let the uncooked egg slide underneath.
  7. When the egg is mostly cooked, slide a spatula around the edge to loosen. Place a plate over the pan. Hold the plate tight and flip.
  8. Slide the tortilla back into the pan and cook the other side for a minute. Serve.