Last week, I needed to come up with a quick dinner that didn’t involve rice or pasta or fish & chips. My husband suggested a ‘Spanish omelette’ – to which I said “Huh?!”. We proceeded to have one of our very funny arguments/discussions that are common when you have a trans-atlantic relationship. Others have included “what is a ‘cup’ as a measuring unit?” and “why don’t you have to refrigerate squash”.
So the ‘discussion’ got me thinking on how exactly do you differentiate between an omelette, frittata and ‘Spanish omelette’? So here goes:
- A frittata is an Italian word which is a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet. Typcially a frittata is made with eggs that are whipped to create a light texture. It’s cooked slowly and is flipped as a whole or finished under the oven. The additional ingredients are often cooked first and the eggs are added in after.
- A standard omelette (according to Escoffier) consists of three eggs with seasoning of a small pinch of table-salt and a little pepper and requires 1/2 oz of butter. It is effectively “scrambled eggs enclosed in a coating of coagulated egg” (The Escoffier) and is therefore cooked on low/medium heat.
- A “Spanish Omelette” or as it is known in Spanish a “Tortilla” traditionally consists of eggs, onion and potato. I’ve read a few different methods. Some cook the onion and potato first and pour the egg right in. Some cool the onion and potato after cooking and add to the raw egg mixture to let the flavors mingle. Some put it under a grill/broil to cook the top or in an oven. And some let the bottom set and then use a plate to flip it out and then tip it back in.
So there you have it. The differences between frittata, omelette and a Spanish omelette. Also in case you’re wondering, “omelet” is the way it’s often written in the US but “omelette” is the actual French spelling. Now seeing that I studied in Spain (Sevilla) for 6-months during college, I’m a purist and believe that a Spanish omelette can only be called such if it’s potato, onion and egg. However, my husband was insisting that he grew up with Spanish omelettes being an omelette with any type of vegetable or leftover. And I had to bite my lip after strongly disagreeing when I saw Tesco selling a “Spanish Omelette” – one with potato and the other with red pepper and chorizo.
So hope you enjoyed all those little facts! After all that, I ended up making what my husband affectionately called a Spanish omelette and what I will continue to insist is a frittata for dinner last night. The method I chose was to chop into small dice – potatoes, leeks and a red (bell) pepper. I cooked the potatoes first until they were starting to soften and then tossed the leeks and pepper in. Let it all cook a few more minutes. Cracked my eggs, seasoning and a splash of milk in a bowl and whisked. Drizzled a bit more olive oil around the edges of the vegetables and poured the eggs in. On medium heat, I let the egg start to cook and gently moved it all around until I had at least a third of the egg cooked and a layer on the bottom forming. I had the grill (in the US we call it a boiler) on mark 4 and popped the ‘frittata’ into the oven. Make sure you have a pan that is oven proof though! And I just let it cook until the top was golden and it was springy to the touch. Serve with some salsa or salad!