Spanish Tortilla with Spring Vegetables, Smoked Salmon, and Herb Crema | CUESA

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Spanish Tortilla with Spring Vegetables, Smoked Salmon, and Herb Crema


Ryan McIlwraith, Bellota

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on May 23, 2015.  

Makes 6 to 8 servings


2 cups olive oil
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced in ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sliced yellow onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 sprig thyme, leaves only
1 cup shelled English peas
1 cup shelled fava beans
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon minced preserved lemon, skin only

Herb Crema
1 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
¼ cup finely chopped chives

1 pound (8 slices) smoked salmon
8 fresh chives, cut into 1 inch pieces


For the tortilla: Heat the oil over medium in a small saucepan with tall sides (the oil should only come halfway up the pan to prevent boiling over). Add a piece of potato to check the temperature; if it bubbles immediately and floats, its ready. Add the potatoes to the pan gently. Moderate the heat to keep the potatoes boiling but don’t allow the oil to smoke or burn. Cook the potatoes, without browning, until they are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Place a heatproof strainer over a heatproof bowl. Carefully pour the oil and potatoes into the strainer, letting the oil drain into the bowl. Sprinkle the potatoes with a bit of salt while still warm. Reserve the oil.

Add the oil back to the saucepan and repeat the cooking process with the sliced onions. Cook the onions until soft and completely translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. When they have 2 minutes remaining to cook, add the garlic and thyme to the pan. Be careful when adding the thyme, as it may cause splattering. Strain the onion-garlic-thyme mixture as you did with the potatoes, and season. Reserve the oil. Leftover oil can be used for other cooking, as it has developed great vegetable flavor.

While the other vegetables are frying, blanch the peas in salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and cool the peas immediately to prevent overcooking. Reserve the blanching water.

Blanch the shelled fava beans in the pea water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and cool immediately. When cool, remove the outer shell of the fava beans by nicking with a paring knife or your fingernail and slipping it off.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with the remaining salt, 1 tablespoon of the reserved olive oil, and the preserved lemon. Stir all the vegetables into the eggs and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes in order to let the flavors meld.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Pour in the eggs. Stir the tortilla only once or twice when you start cooking it. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the tortilla to set up on the bottom, but don’t let it brown. At this point, you should not stir it anymore. Use a heatproof spatula to pull the edges of the tortilla into a neat circle. When the egg is almost set, remove the pan from the heat. Place a large, flat plate or pan lid on top of the tortilla and, working over a bowl to catch any drips, very carefully flip the tortilla over. Slide the tortilla back into the skillet to cook the other side, adding anything that may have dripped off into the bowl. Cook the tortilla to your desired doneness. If you are going to be eating it right away, I recommend leaving the eggs runny on the inside. If you want to pack it up for traveling, you may want to cook the eggs until completely set throughout. When it is done, lift the edge with a spatula and carefully slide it out of the skillet onto a serving dish.

For the herb crema: Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until slightly creamy and every ingredient is fully incorporated. Mix with a hard wire whisk until aerated. Chill the crema in the bowl or in a piping bag with a small tip.

To assemble: When the tortilla has cooled, slice it into 6 to 8 wedges. Garnish with the crema in a spiral design, and scatter the smoked salmon and herbs evenly between the portions.

Photo by Jennifer Kregear.


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »