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Vegetarian Spinach Patties with Green Tomatillo Salsa {gluten-free}

Fork-tender spinach patties covered in a rich green tomatillo salsa –here’s an unusual way to serve spinach.  A real vegetarian treat, these savory green cakes are made with seriously wilted spinach, seasoned with onion and cilantro, and pan-fried until golden. Corn tortilla crumbs and a little egg hold everything together, and each pattie hides pinky finger-sized pieces of melty cheese.

Tortas de Espinaca Carmen/Spinach Patties with Salsa Verde


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To make vegetarian spinach patties, steam 2 bunches of fresh spinach or thaw 2 packages of frozen spinach, then drain and press out as much liquid as possible. Tuck melty pieces of cheese inside ss you form the mixture into little cakes. Sauté in olive oil until just beginning to brown on both sides. The tomatillo sauce is simply tomatillos, onion, garlic and vegetable broth.

This recipe comes from Carmen, my Mexican home-stay mother at Spanish language immersion school. The first time she served me her tortas de espinaca, I just about did a headstand on the table, they were so mindblowingly delicious! Carmen is not only an excellent cook, she’s also a teacher at the school, and when you stay at her house, you speak only Spanish.

Carmen’s tortas de espinaca, these vegetarian spinach patties, is one Spanish lesson I’ll remember, and that I’m happy as a margarita to pass on to you.

spinach for Tortas de Espinaca Carmen/Spinach Patties with Salsa Verde

Ladle warm tomatillo sauce over your spinach patties, like Carmen does with her tortas de espinaca. Her green sauce recipe is unique from other salsa verde recipes in that there’s no cilantro in the sauce, which I always put in tomatillo sauce. I even called Carmen in Mexico to confirm that her salsa verde doesn’t include cilantro. Sí, no. Cilantro goes in the tortas but not in the sauce.

Carmen’s recipe includes bread crumbs to absorb moisture and help the patties hold together. I told her I was going to replace the bread crumbs with corn tortilla crumbs so the patties could be gluten-free. She said “no hay problema”, and also that flour or cornmeal can substitute for the bread crumbs.

Like Carmen, serve your spinach patties with Mexican rice and tender pinto beans.

Tortas de Espinaca Carmen/Spinach Patties with Salsa Verde

My last visit with Carmen, she sent me home on the plane with para llevar, a couple tortilla roll-ups of leftover spinach patties. Wrapped in the roll-ups were slices of avocado, tomato, and queso Oaxaca, a melty cheese similar to mozzarella. I am pretty sure the person next to me on the flight was envious. He got peanuts.

You might also like my green enchiladas with spinach and arugula.

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This recipe is an update of the recipe I posted right after a two-week stint at Cuernavaca Language School, and home-stay at Carmen’s. The photo below is of Carmen’s tortas de espinaca on her floral-pattern melamine plate.

Carmen's Spinach Tortas

Nutrition Facts
Vegetarian Spinach Patties with Tomatillo Sauce
Amount Per Serving (2 g)
Calories 146 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 64mg21%
Sodium 728mg32%
Potassium 1499mg43%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 21724IU434%
Vitamin C 77mg93%
Calcium 306mg31%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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