Today’s tapas, tortilla de guisantes, is an omelet made of peas, caramelized onions and a bit of mint. It’s typically served in bite sized pieces and eaten with toothpicks. Naturally, bread and wine are also involved somewhere.
A Spanish tortilla is very different from a New World tortilla as you can see. There are flat breads in Spain, but they’re leavened with yeast and are more like a thin crust pizza. They are especially popular in Barcelona and Catalonia where they are called cocas. Many of the artisan pizzas you see nowadays would be considered cocas in Spain, I think. They are the topic of another post, because today we’re talking about eggy goodness.
The recipe for tortilla de guisantes was adapted from the book Spain: Authentic Regional Recipes by M Teresa Segura (affiliate link). It’s a simple recipe, only seasoned by the olive oil it’s cooked in, salt, pepper and mint. Peas and mint are a classic combination. If you’re unsure how you’d like it with eggs, don’t worry. You only get a slight hint of it, and it goes very well. I haven’t tried it, but thyme or dill could probably be substituted for the mint.
It takes awhile to caramelize the onions, but they freeze well cooked this way. Once started, they need little supervision beyond the occasional stir so it’s easy enough to cook a large batch of onions and freeze them in recipe size batches. Once frozen, it’s simple to pull them out of the freezer for whatever use you need.
After adding the egg, reduce the heat under the skillet and cook the tortilla slowly. You can pull the cooked egg back and tilt the pan to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath. Keep working a spatula under the egg to loosen the tortilla in the pan so you can flip it. You’ll know it’s time to flip when the bottom and sides are set and there’s just a little bit left to cook on the top of the tortilla. To flip, cover the skillet with a lid or plate and invert the whole thing at once. Then slide the inverted tortilla back into the pan so the top (now the bottom) can cook.
If you’re really nervous about flipping the tortilla, you could place it under the broiler for five minutes or so to finish it. Don’t be intimidated at flipping it, though. The Spanish have a special plate that works for serving as well as flipping their tortillas (affiliate link). It’s traditional to flip a tortilla but sometimes the tortilla doesn’t flip nicely. You may flip it to soon, or you may make the mistake of putting too many peas in the pan in which case your tortilla will fall apart when you flip it. All is not lost if you experience tortilla failure. You will still have a tasty scramble.
If you decide to use fresh peas for your tortilla de guisantes, take the time to blanch them first unless you like your peas crunchy. Frozen peas are excellent for this. Canned peas will work as long as you drain them well and are careful not to mush them, don’t expect the lovely pea color though.
Ingredients for Six Servings:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- One large onion, sliced (about 2 cups) OR 1 cup caramelized onion
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon fresh mint, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large (9″) skillet.
- Add the onions and cook on high heat until the onions begin to change color. (If using frozen onions, warm them in the pan and skip to Step 4).
- Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for about 25 minutes until the onions are very soft and a nice color.
- Add the peas and season with salt and pepper. Stir to distribute the peas and onions evenly.
- Keep the heat on low and add the eggs.
- Allow the eggs to cook slowly, use a spatula to lift the edges of the tortilla and allow some of the uncooked egg to run underneath.
- Keep working the spatula underneath to loosen the tortilla.
- Place the lid on the skillet and invert the pan as discussed above. Return the inverted tortilla to the pan to continue cooking.
- The tortilla is finished when the egg is set, but not dried out.
- To serve, cut the tortilla in half, then cut the half into 2 inch strips. The strips can be further cut into bite sized bits.
- Place toothpicks on the table for picking up the pieces of tortilla de guisantes.
What I love about all the Spanish style tortillas I’ve had is how the ingredients are allowed to stand on their own. Have you made a tortilla? How about an omelet or frittata? What are your favorite fillings?