Potato, Parsnip and Watercress Tortilla

I was looking through some of my blog archives a few days ago and I realized how things have changed around here. From complex petits gateaux to an array of laminated doughs, this blog started as a way to keep alive my passion for the art of pastry, the technique and precision. However, with small babies in our lives and all the time that involves, this blog has transformed into a recollection of the simple meals and desserts we eat in our everyday lives. It might be just a phase, but I’m really enjoying it too.

Where I grew up, tortilla de patatas is a staple. It is the snack we eat on Sunday mornings at pintxo bars, it is the bocadillo we take on school trips, it is part of all birthday parties… it is everything to us. Simple as can be, but such an emblem of our gastronomic culture.

A friend just told me yesterday something that stuck with me. When someone you love comes over for dinner, you make them a tortilla de patata because it takes time and love to make it. When someone that means nothing to you comes over for dinner, you buy the most expensive fish and just stick it in the oven. I love that.

Everyday I get many emails of readers asking me questions about macarons and how to perfect their technique, but a close second are the emails I receive asking me about how to make a good Spanish tortilla. Making a decent tortilla is not difficult, but making a great one is a different story. How can a recipe that only contains potato, onion and eggs be so difficult to master? The answer is the oil and what you do with that oil.

It is all about a good quality extra virgen olive oil, how much of it and how that oil is heated. It is very important that the oil is not too hot so the potatoes end up poaching rather than frying. It is almost like making fondant potatoes.

This is a slight variation to the traditional recipe with the addition of parsnips and watercress. Try this recipe and let me know what you think. You won’t be disappointed.

Potato, Parsnip and Watercress Spanish Tortilla

makes 1 8″ tortilla

1/2 cup extra virgen olive oil
1/2 medium onion, medium dice
2 medium russet potatoes, medium dice
1 medium parsnip, medium dice
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of watercress, roughly chopped

In an 8″ non stick skillet, heat the olive oil in medium heat. Add the onions and sweat them for about 2 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and parsnip and the 1 tsp of salt. Keep the heat in medium for about 2 minutes and then lower it lo medium low for about another 15 minutes. The point here is that the potatoes must poach in the olive oil not really fry. We don’t want crispy potatoes inside the tortilla. Towards the end, I even take a fork and gently mash them a bit so the olive oil gets inside the potato as well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the 1/2 tsp of salt. Add the watercress. Drain the potatoes and parnsips slightly and add them to the eggs. It’s ok if they are hot and the eggs scramble a bit.

Remove most of the oil from the pan. Leave about 1 tsp of oil. Turn the heat back to medium. Add the egg mixture and using a wooden spoon, stir the center so the egg starts to cook. When the center starts to scramble, let it be and don’t stir anymore. Tuck in the edges nicely with the spatula and cook for about 2 minutes.

Flip the tortilla with the help of a plate and finish cooking the other side. Some people like the center a bit runny, others all the way cooked. Personally, I like it when some of the egg still a bit runny but not too much.

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94 Responses to “Potato, Parsnip and Watercress Tortilla”

  1. montague says:

    parsnips are my most favorite veggie… this looks so tasty!

  2. Dajda says:

    Aran, I really don’t like potatoes but your lovely photos make me want to make this tortilla right away. :)

  3. My abuela used to make tortilla de papas…. She was from Galicia. She made a great one! :)

    Hope life is treating you well, Aran. As always, I love your posts. You have such a calm and beautiful way of writing – I enjoy reading your words.


  4. maia says:

    I love parsnips but here it is very difficult to find in market.
    I’ll dream about your tortillas!!!!

  5. Confettina says:

    I will definitely try this recipe as soon as I get my hands on parsnips! Your posts are most appetizing and inspiring! Thank you.

  6. Melanie says:

    This looks absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ahora ya con la tortilla de patatas nos terminas de conquistar!!!Increible no? como una tortilla puede quedar tan bien entre tanto dulce. Para mi la clave esta en el aceite (tb si la patata es buena mejor q mejor).
    Si, quizas antes las recetas fuesen mas sofisticadas…pero para mi estas ultimas son mas practicas….las puedo hacer y queda algo decente,j,j!! Beso Carmen ZH

  8. Ana says:

    Mi abuela decía que hacer una tortilla de papas tenía su ciencia… buen aceite, buenos huevos y a fuego bajo, sin prisas… con esto conseguía que el interior que dase un poco jugoso, pero en realidad era meloso…

    Me moría por sus tortillas!! Yo he tardado en conseguir ese punto meloso en las tortillas pero nunca serán como las suyas!!

    Un besazo…

  9. Maia & Confettina` you can use all potatoes and skip the parsnips just like it’s made traditionally. justas tasty or better!

    Ana, Maria & Carmen- seguro que no hay recuerdo de ninez sin tortilla verdad?

    thank you guys!

  10. La Titti says:

    Really amazing photos, I can almost smell and taste them!

  11. Jamie says:

    a friend of mine on Flickr referred me to your blog, since I’ve been getting into food photography as well. I just wanted to say both your photos and recipes look delicious! I’m going to have to try the all potato version of this tortilla for brunch next weekend!

  12. Katie says:

    I was so excited to see this post. I lived in Spain in college and grad school and as a result love all things Spain, especially the food. These days I don’t eat spanish food nearly enough for my liking. I’ve tried to make a decent tortilla, but just never mastered it. Now I’m inspired to take it up again. muchisimas gracias.

  13. ooooh i just discovered your blog today and it is breathtakingly beautiful. thanks so much for making me hungry! :)

    nice to e-meet you! keep up the gorgeous work.

  14. etringita says:

    A mí la tortilla de patatas me trae aromas de domingo por la mañana en la cocina, escapada al campo con la familia, una tarde de playa y fiesta de cumpleaños.

    Un besote.

  15. la ninja says:

    tortilla de patatas with a twist. ha, love it. to me it also brings all sorts of delicious memories. it’s my folk’s home, it’s summers on the beach, it’s la excursión del cole, it’s informal dinners with friends, it’s, it’s, it simply is.

    very very timely post as I’ve been meaning to perfect my tortilla-making skills. last week, a friend from málaga made her regional variation for me at home with green pepper and fresh curly parsley. unfortunately, it ended up (partly) squashed and crumbled on top of my stove. it was delicious, though.

    apparently, the dish I gave her to flip it on/with was too heavy. so, now I know the secret to a perfect tortilla and basically need to buy a bigger (in diametre), flatter, lighter tortilla “flipper”.
    so, that explains it. it wasn’t me, it was just I was using the wrong tools ;P (but isn’t it always like that?)

  16. It must have a wonderful flavor! Parsnips are so tasty…



  17. Katie- that’s wonderful. where in spain? you should start cooking spanish again. so healthy!

    Etringita- eso es. tortilla de patatas siempre va asociado con recuerdos.

    la Ninja- yes, it’s the tools :) the plate is very important like you say. it must fit the saute pan perfectly. a perfect flip. try again.

    thank you!

  18. Alana says:

    Looks amazing! Love tortilla!

  19. Janet says:

    Beautiful pictures as always. I know very little of Spanish cooking and looking into taking a class at one of the local colleges. The Tortilla looks interesting and very tasty.

  20. Mimi says:

    I so love tortilla,and have never made it despite receiving the recipe from a Spanish friend. Maybe now is the time.

  21. Michelle says:

    I once had a Bocadilla (on soft bread with aioli + tomato) in Barcelona, and since, have found it my go-to picnic sandwich (along with proscuitto, butter, and parm on baguette).

    But I’ve never been able to get the tortilla to taste like the one I had in Spain. The key must be poaching the potatoes in olive oil – I was sauteeing them!
    Thank you so much for sharing this technique! I can’t wait to try again.

  22. I am battling a terrible cold, and this tortilla is the first thing that has sounded really good to me in days. I might just have to drag myself into the kitchen and make one. Lovely photos.

  23. Why I love your blog…. Because is wonderful!!! I see all your post when I look it… by

  24. Trissa says:

    I used to think tortillas were the underdog of tapas because as you said, it contained so little ingredients (and humble ingredients I may add). But it is such a sublime dish. I will have to try adding parsnips as well! Loving how your blog has evolved too!

  25. Hola me encantan las recetas que publicas y tus fotos son maravillosas un saludo de Barcelona.

  26. I just love your photos of everything you make! can’t get over how beautiful they are!

  27. This sound much too delicious. I must have it now!

  28. rosanna says:

    Precioso post sobre la tortilla de patatas. Las fotos como siempre excepcionales, y la receta inmejorable.
    Rosanna, de cosasconencanto.blogspot.com

  29. Azúcar says:

    I made tortilla just this morning!

    A tip, I avoid the russets because they tend to be a little too dry. I get truly succulent tortilla by using yukon gold potatoes.

    It just says España to me, no? Summer on the beach, mariscos, mama y papa…

    ¡Vamanos! ¡Ahora!

  30. Azúcar says:

    p.s. Vintage Simple–we’re from Galicia as well! We’re probably related ;)

  31. I opened your post and literally gasped at how beautiful your pictures are! so gorgeous; i love the lighting :)

  32. I just want to put my teeth into my computer-screen!! It all looks so very tasty and inviting…

  33. laura says:

    So beautiful… I have a sack full of red potatoes waiting to be made into something delicious – would these work in place of russets?

  34. Another wonderful recipe1 I grew up eating tortilla with potatoes, so this is a little different.

    Thank you for posting info on the food photography workshop. I wish I could go. Unfortunately, the date doesn’t work for me.

    Have a great week!


  35. The pepperiness of watercress in the eggy and potatoey flavour… Amazing!!

  36. Mónica says:

    Muchas veces las recetas sencillas pueden llegar a convertirse un plato exquisito. No todo el mundo sabe hacer una buena tortilla.

    Este post me ha recordado que un día de estos tengo que cenar un bocata en el Juantxo de la parte vieja. Me encantan.

    Un abrazo.

  37. ibb says:

    Egunero jango nuke…beti dago hor…eta gehienetan tabernatan edo hemen lanean urtebetetzeetan edo ostiraleko hamaiketakoan…jajaja. Nire aitak esaten duen bezala, patata eta olioaz aparte, portila hon bat egiteko malabarista bat izan behar zara tortilari buelta emateko. Ni hortan diat failoa. Amak ere ez dio ondo ematen…aita diagu artista.
    Tortilla arte eta malabarismoa da.

    Itzura izugarria du.

  38. Such wonderful photos!
    Your recipe looks delicious. I’ve never made tortillas before but I sure want to give it a try.

  39. I have been following your blog for a while now – it is my daily treat. I feast my eyes on the beautiful photographs and titillate my imagination with your mouthwatering recipes. Although I’m a passionate foodie and cook, up to now iit’s more voyeuristic than anything else as your recipes are usually more complex than I can manage. I will definitely be making the tortilla though. My 2yr old son devours my version and I love the idea of adding parsnip. Thanks for your wonderful blog – it is a pleasure to read!

  40. Esti says:

    aran, la tortilla de patatas es de lo mejor que nos puede pasar. Y ahora que nuestros blogs cumplen dos años puedo decir que me alegro de haberte conocido, que aunque yo no haya aprendido nada de cocina, me siento “comunicada” contigo. Y hoy lo voy a celebrar ahora mismo con un pincho de tortilla!

  41. What a wonderful post ~ just the type that would be perfect for Timeless Tuesday!

    I’m hosting a weekly party on Tuesdays starting Feb 2nd (next week) on timeless classics including cooking, recipes, and entertaining among other topics (interior design, fashion….) ~ check this post out for the details. http://paulagracedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/01/timeless-tuesday.html

    I’m looking forward to having you and your readers there!

    Paula Grace ~

  42. Thank you, thank you for the details! This is one of those things that I make often but never get quite right. It’s never as wonderful as I remember it should be, but I think there is hope! Perhaps I have been cooking the potatoes at too high a heat. We shall see – I’ll try again this week. And I love the idea of adding parsnip!

  43. Christine says:

    It’s beautiful as well as an inventive way to use parsnips!

  44. I love the food in the pictures, but what I really love is the knife in the top photo. The vintage/slightly banged-up and tarnished silver really makes it feel like a weekend meal at my grandmother’s home.

    Now we will have to get about perfecting the tortilla!

  45. idu says:

    Patata tortilla, piper berdeak eta tipularekin dut gustokoena. argazki zoragarriak beti moduan. muxuak

  46. This recipe is timely! I recently had tortilla de patatas at a restaurant and wanted to make them at home. Yours looks delicious!

  47. baby crib says:

    The pictures are so lovely! I am drooling over it! I like the color of the eggs. They are really from the farm. Farm eggs are not white.

  48. Michelle A says:

    Wow… this looks amazing. What a gorgeous blog. Your photos are gorgeous. Is there any way you wouldn’t mind sharing where you found that beautiful porcelain platter/board? Thank you!

  49. Laura- I wouldn’t go buy red ones for this just because they will not break down as easily but in a pinch you can certainly use them if that’s all you have.

    Monica- pues si, no hay nada como un buen bocadillo de tortilla verdad?

    Ibb- guk sarritan eiten dogu ze hemen lagunek etxera datozenean beti tortilla eskatzen dabe. Un vicio!

    Chocolate Fairy- well thank you for commenting. I appreciate it!

    Esti- ya sabes lo que pienso… igualmente :). xxoo

    Katie- let me know if you try it like this and how it works out. thanks!

    Idu- bai, gernikako piperrak… gatz apur bategaz… ai ama!

    El- just grab a napkin. no need for a fork lady, this is a pintxo! :)

    Baby Crib- the eggs were excellent. that’s also of course another trick to a great tortilla.

    Michelle- are you referring to the white one? that is from Sur La Table. Thank you!

    Thanks everyone!

  50. I loved these tortillas the one time I was in Spain – I haven’t yet tried to recreate them, but yours looks just lovely! And I really like the way your blog evolves; I think it tells a wonderful story, not just in posts, but also in tone and subject choice.

  51. my goodness– i would love this for dinner!! and parsnips are certainly one of my favorite veggies!

  52. Angela says:

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe… made it today: http://twitpic.com/100bcz
    It´s just a little bit too salty for me…^^

  53. Angela- yes, salt can be a personal thing. that’s why sometimes i hate to give measurements for salt and pepper because you never know, but try it next time with less salt. did you like it otherwise?

  54. ohhmay says:

    I have been obsessed with spanish tortillas since I tried my first one last year. They’re so delicious with the complex, fruity flavor of the olive oil and slightly crispy chewyness of the potatoes.
    I love the inclusion of parsnips and I happen to have some in the fridge. Perhaps this will be a nice, late dinner tonight?

  55. Angela says:

    apart from the salt.. it is really good. I like it a lot! Will make it again the future.:)

  56. Lovely combination of ingredients. I am coming for lunch, right??? Pretty pictures too.

  57. Deeba PAB says:

    I love it that you can make savoury look as gorgeous as dessert Aran…beautiful, and full of love!

  58. delicious and something i just might be able to come close in making!! beautiful images! you make me want my garden to grow!

  59. Katie says:

    I spent a summer in Oviedo, a semester in Valencia and over a year in Madrid. I loved everything. Really. But the food. I had never eaten real food shopped for and cooked daily. And I walked so often. Now I live in the Chicago suburbs. Its a very different lifestyle. And I so miss the vibrancy of life right outside of the door. I’m going to start cooking more spanish food. I try to bring my lunch to work, and cook it all the weekend before. So I’ll bring back the “a comer” I miss hearing so much.

  60. Jen says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I spent a sememster in Spain and the tortilla the woman I lived with was spectacular. I still crave it. No matter how many Tortilla recipes I’ve tried I could never figure out why mine didn’t compare. I thought you needed the gene or something. This was very helpful (and of course, beautiful). Can’t wait to try it.

  61. Nancy says:

    I’ve been following your blog for quite a while. Your recipes and photos are huge inspiration for me. I’ve learned over time that simple, healthy meals cooked with love are the best nourishment. I’m going to make this for lunch tomorrow for someone I love. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  62. This looks and sounds absolutely divine! I love finding new recipes for family brunches. Your photographs are gorgeous, as always. It’s amazing you have time to blog with the new baby. She is beautiful. Thank you so much for taking time today to “talk” to me on Twitter about the linguine with clam sauce. Dani ddh77(Twitter)

  63. Sus fabulosas recetas frescas para cada temporada.

  64. Divina Pe says:

    This is a great combination for a tortilla. Always love your photos.

  65. ChichaJo says:

    This is such a classic dish! Thank you for sharing those tips…so true, some think that because a dish is simple it is easy, but in trutch you have to pay great care to the ingedients so they give their best! Gorgeous photos as always!

  66. Aran, thanks for such an informative post! I didn’t know of Spanish tortilla! Oh, and also thanks for the great tips!! If time allows, I’ll try my hands on this because this is new to me and I’m all too curious about it! =)


  67. I am hungry looking at it. Such a useful post.

  68. always fresh and inspiring… and always…. makes me open the refrigerator!

  69. this looks really yummy – I think I’ll try it this weekend.

  70. Sus fabulosas recetas frescas para cada temporada.

  71. Yuko says:

    Tortilla looks really delicious. Very beautiful pictures… I love it.I have never used parsnips in my cooking but it looks good. I want to try it!

  72. laura says:

    Aran, I just made this with the red potatoes I mentioned and it turned out beautifully – not as picturesque as yours, I am afraid (I did not have a nonstick skillet) but delicious and intact. I did not use parsnips or watercress, but hope to next time around. Thank you for introducing me to a wonderful new creation and comfort food.

  73. Well it looks good and delicious but but but I am pure vegeterian so I don’t eat nonveg including egg so I can’t eat it.. :-(

  74. Kirsten says:

    Your photographs are absolutely stunning! Everything looks delicioso!

  75. We had a beautiful party featuring a Spanish menu for my hubbie’s birthday last year. For the party we served a lovely tortilla (Mario Batali). Both that recipe and this one, call for what I thought was going to be an excessive amount of oil. Nope! When I experimented with cutting back, I found out how crucial it is. I think I’ll try this lovely variation for my Saturday brunch this week.

  76. mónica says:

    Es la tortilla de patata más guapina que ví nunca!

  77. One thing I notice about this blog is that the pictures are so beautiful it looks bright and heavenly like ambiance. I love the photos, very neat and beautiful.

  78. This is one amazing blog. I love it.

  79. tienes razon, el secreto esta en el aceite….me encanto tu tortilla, bravo Aran! besitos

  80. B says:


    I would love to be to cook “tortilla de patatas” and I agree with your friend about what a great dish it is for dinner with friends. Not only because of the time and love it takes, but also because you must feel very comfortable with the person in order to offer a “humble” tortilla. True friendship! Like mine to you! Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary of the blog8

  81. Michelle says:

    I tried it! It was DELICIOUS! The only issue I had was it didn’t seem to hold together well. It really fell apart when I went to flip it. I can’t figure out if perhaps it’s because I use carbon steel pans and not non-stick?

    I love this blog. I’ve been reading almost since the beginning and as a first generation pastry chef, with a newborn daughter and a preschooler son as well, you inspire me more with every single post. Thank you so much!

  82. Michelle- yes, having a non-stick makes a difference for this. i only use non stick pans for this actually. if you use a regular one, then you must add more olive oil in the pan. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Thank you!

  83. lkellers says:

    I made this and although I wasn’t able to make it look as pretty as you did, It was great! I added paprika, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cumin, a few tomato cubes, and a pinch of jalapeño. So good! Although the potatoes took longer to cook than I thought.

  84. Irene Z says:

    Acabo de encontrar tu blog por casualidad, y me ha hecho mucha ilusion! Tambien soy vasca, de Bilbao, y hace unos meses que me he mudado a EEUU, recien casada que estoy :) Pero claro, es imposible que no entre un poco de morriña al ver tus preciosas fotos de Euskadi…!

    Por cierto, menuda pinta que tiene la tortilla. Ojala me saliesen a mi asi! Tengo que practicar mas, o mi marido acabara pensando que realmente tiene que estar churruscadita…

  85. Sini says:

    I made it and even managed to flip it! :) Made a great Easter lunch.

  86. […] Potato, Parsnip, and Watercress Tortilla, by Cannelle et Vanille […]

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