Recipes,  Vegetarian

Patatas a lo pobre: the humblest Spanish tapa

Hola amigos!

How are you getting on? To be honest with you, I am feeling a bit nostalgic today. Not only because I am back to work after my holidays, but because I have missed another Saint John’s day celebration. If I had been yesterday in my natal Barcelona, I would have probably spent the night at the beach, drank some cava, threw fireworks and swam in the sea without noticing whether the water is hot or cold. For me, and for many of the Catalans, La nit de Sant Joan (Saint John’s night) it is very special as it marks the beginning of the summer. Also, since the following day is a Bank Holiday people usually head off the coast and launch their particular beach season-if that hasn’t been done before, of course.

I have been nearly six years living in the UK and I still miss this special day. Never mind, I hope to celebrate it again very soon. In the meantime, why not talking about another summer classic? Yes, today’s recipe is a tapa-and one that everybody loves! No table is ever complete without a portion of Patatas a lo pobre (Poor style potatoes). As its name says, it is a humble dish, created in times when food was scarce and in order to make the most of what was then available. My grandmother, who grew up in the rural Spain of the post-war era, told me once that they would cook it by exposing the skillet outside against the sun. This is a real shocking testimonial of her early days.

It is understood this dish was born in southern Spain and rapidly expanded all over the country. Originally, it was only made out of potatoes and onion. The recipe has evolved and nowadays is very common to find it with fried eggs, peppers and even chorizo or jamon. Nevertheless, it has not lost its humble essence. An stunning tapa and a good side dish in equal terms, it is usually served without much attention to detail, but rather messy.


  • Large potatoes (4-5)
  • Large onion (1)
  • Red pepper (1)
  • Green pepper (1)
  • Garlic cloves (2)
  • Sunflower oil
  • Salt


  1. Heat up a generous amount of sunflower oil in a skillet at low power. Cut the garlic cloves half way and tip it into the pan once the oil begins to sizzle.

2. Cut the potatoes in slices of one inch wide and salt them in a bowl. Add it to the skillet three minutes after the garlic cloves and simmer.

3. Finely chop the onion and slice the peppers. Add both to the skillet at the same time and simmer. Stir frequently so all the ingredients cook properly.

4. When the potatoes turn tender, golden brown, remove from the skillet making sure you drain them well. I recommend you to put them in a plate covered with a couple of kitchen towels before serving. This way, you will get rid of almost the whole oil excess.

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