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Friday, January 21, 2011

Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) with parsley and fennel

The tortilla de patatas (torte with potatoes would be the literal translation) is perhaps one of the most known Spanish traditional dishes. Its classic version looks like this and contains only eggs, potatoes and very likely onions. Here, my idea was to improve the simple version by adding green bell pepper (also traditionally used in the tortilla in Spanish cuisine), red onions instead of yellow (their flavor is stronger and I personally deem it more interesting than the yellow type, especially in something like a torte - sometime soon I shall use a spread made mainly of red onions to fill pastry puffs, I'm sure you'll love it!), parsley and fennel. As you can see, you could easily call this Green Tortilla de patatas ;), not only because of its added ingredients which are mainly green (except the red onions), but mostly because of its very flavorful herbal aromas. Especially fennel. That fennel is something greatly flavored which we (I) absolutely adore.
Let me tell you a bit more about the glorious fennel. My favorite way to have it is in dried bits covered with white chocolate. I also enjoy its liquorish flavor in mint candy, in pickles and find it quite hypnotic to smell. Not to mention that it is one of the main ingredient in absinthe (the damned poison-drink of the damned French poets of the fin-de-siecle - one of my favorite times in the history of art, when the Victorian mentality became aware of its imminent death and started to slip into decadency and burlesque resulting a very goth and romantic-morbid combination). But I greatly digress. One more detail I love about fennel is that it's one of the herbs mentioned in a over 1000-year old English charm (infused with German paganism), the Nine Herbs Charm, where the Germanic god Wodin is invoked to use the power of nine herbs to smite away poison :). 
Also, in Greek mythology, Prometheus uses a fennel stalk to steal the fire from the gods and bring it to the people. 
One last mention: if you try to re-do this, don't be surprised if the final result will not be as compact as a classic tortilla de patatas consisting only of potatoes, eggs and maybe onions. All those herbs added tend to make its consistency softer and even fragmented, but also give it the wonderful herbal taste :). With that being said, enjoy!

Ingredients (makes 2 tortillas - about 4 servings):
  • 750-800 g red-skinned potatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • about 20 ml olive oil (into separate gurgles)
  • 1 green bell pepper - 150 g
  • 1 florence fennel bulb (labeled in supermarkets "fennel") - 200 g
  • 100 g fresh parsley
  • 2 medium red onions - 200 g
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, wash your main ingredients and have them nearby. Begin with the parsley:

Chop it into fine little pieces and set it aside:

Reserve maybe a few parsley leaves for decorating. Wash the fennel (it's supposed to look like this):

Smell it, it's great! Next, cut it into little pieces (using everything from bulb to little green leaves) and set them too aside:

Cut the bell pepper in two and discard the inner seeds:

Mince it too and set it aside. Clean and peel the potatoes:

Get the red onions:

Peel them and mince them:

Keep them covered so they don't sting your eyes further. Peel the garlic cloves. Cut the potatoes into thin slices, salt them and have all the chopped ingredients nearby:

Smash the garlic with a garlic crusher and mix it with the onion. Next, put some olive oil in a frying pan and slowly, on low heat, fry the potato slices until they're soft (1-2 minutes on each side), a few at a time, so they all directly touch the pan's surface:

Fry until soft and light golden, they shouldn't really fry or get browned. Repeat the procedure until you've fried half of the potatoes:

Put 4 eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste:

Beat them until even (1-2 minutes):

Next, take half the onion-garlic mix and fry it for 2-3 minutes, stirring:

When done, add to the fried potatoes:

Mix very well, then add the beaten eggs. Mix again so that the eggs cover every piece of potato and onion, then put some more oil in the frying pan (must be a medium frying pan, around 28 cm diameter) and put the whole thing in it, on low heat:

Quickly, add half of the minced parsley, fennel and bell pepper (easier in this order) and stir to mix everything:

Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add a large plate on top of the pan:

Holding the pan and plate firmly together with a kitchen towel, reverse the tortilla into the plate, then slide it back into the pan so it fries on the other side too:

Fry for one more minute, then put on a serving plate. Repeat the procedure for the other half of ingredients (fry the potatoes, onions and garlic, beat eggs, incorporate everything and fry tortilla). Decorate with reserved parsley leaves. You may serve later too, cold, but we recommend it warm. It's ready, dig in! :)


  1. Not to mention fennel has estrogen-like properties great for balancing the womanly body is special times (such as late pregnancy and early motherhood )

  2. Didn't know that until now :)

    Well... we'll be sure to remember that as we're planning to multiply our little family soon! :)


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