Get my newest recipe via email:

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

These vegetarian spinach patties with salsa verde are one of my favorite ways to eat spinach. Covered with rich green tomatillo sauce, each fork-tender little green cake hides pinky finger-sized chunks of melty sharp cheese.

Tortas de Espinaca Carmen/Spinach Patties with Salsa Verde


JUMP DIRECTLY TO RECIPE

These vegetarian spinach patties are easy to make. Steam the spinach or thaw the frozen spinach. Drain and press out as much liquid as you are able. Mix with the onion, garlic, tortilla crumbs, egg, and salt and pepper. Form into little patties, tucking about 5 pieces of cheese inside the pattie. Sauté in olive oil until just beginning to brown on both sides. Serve with a tomatillo sauce that you’ve made by blending tomatillos, onion, and garlic.

The first time I tasted Carmen’s spinach patties (she calls them tortas de espinaca); I just about did a headstand on the table, they were so darn delicious! Carmen is my Mexican home-stay mother at Spanish language immersion school. She is also a teacher, and when you stay at her house, you speak only Spanish. Even if you just speak beginner Spanish.

It’s a goal of my life to speak Spanish well. The best thing I’ve done to that end was travel to Mexico, to language immersion school. Carmen’s tortas de espinaca (aka my 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 a warm tomatillo sauce over your spinach patties, like Carmen does with her tortas de espinaca. This 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 also can substitute for the bread crumbs.

Like Carmen, I serve these 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.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

To get my latest recipe posts and exclusive monthly newsletters, subscribe here.

For more vegetarian recipe ideas, peruse my Pinterest boards.

Find daily vegetarian and healthy living ideas on my Facebook page.

Follow me on Instagram! It’s my favorite!

  • This recipe is a blog post from years ago, written right after a two-week stint at Cuernavaca Language School, and home-stay at Carmen’s; I’ve updated the post with new photos. Here’s the photo of Carmen’s tortas de espinaca on her floral-pattern melamine plate.
Carmen's Spinach Tortas

A photo of Carmen’s Tortas de Espinaca

5 from 1 vote
Tortas de Espinaca Carmen/Spinach Patties with Salsa Verde
Vegetarian Spinach Patties with Tomatillo Sauce
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Served with a warm tomatillo green sauce, these spinach patties or tortas de espinaca can be made with fresh or frozen spinach.  Recipe can easily be doubled. Makes about 6 patties--figure 2 per person.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword: spinach, patties, burgers, tomatillo sauce
Servings: 3 servings.
Calories: 146 kcal
Ingredients
Spinach patties:
  • 2 bunches spinach (10 ounces) or 2 packages frozen chopped spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely ground stale corn tortillas, about 3 tablespoons, as needed, (see note)
  • 1 ounce white cheddar cheese cut in cubes about the size of the tip of your pinkie finger
  • Olive oil, as needed
Tomatillo Sauce:
  • 6 large fresh tomatillos, or one small can
  • 1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeds and veins removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth or as needed
  • Olive oil as needed
Instructions
To make the spinach patties:
  1. ** Fresh spinach: Wash well and remove and discard stems. Steam the spinach leaves about 5 minutes. Allow to drain in a colander or sieve, pressing very well to remove as much excess water as possible. Coarsely chop the spinach.

  2. ** Frozen spinach: Thaw the spinach. Put in a sieve and press very well to remove as much excess water as possible.

  3. In a bowl, mix with the chopped onion, garlic and cilantro. (see note) Using a fork, stir in the eggs, salt and pepper. Stir in the corn tortilla meal or breadcrumbs, just enough so that the mixture holds together.

  4. Divide the spinach mixture in 1/4 cup measures. In the palm of your hand, shape the mixture into small round patties, and as you do, poke 4 or 5 little pieces of the cheese in the middle. Forming them about 2 ½ inches wide, about 1/2 inch thick. (It may feel like the patties won’t hold together, especially if there is still a lot of moisture in the spinach. Handle them gently and they will cook nicely all in one piece.)

  5. Over medium flame, heat a thin layer of the oil in a large skillet. Gently cook the patties, turning to cook both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
To make the Tomatillo Sauce:
  1. Drop the fresh tomatillos into boiling water and cook for several minutes, mostly to remove the paper-like skin. Place the tomatillos, serrano chile(s), onion and garlic and salt in a blender and whirl. Heat a small amount of olive oil in another skillet and add the tomatillo mixture. Cook and stir for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in vegetable broth, just enough to thin the sauce. Season to taste with salt. Pour a generous ladle on top of the spinach tortas.

Recipe Notes
  • I used blender-ground corn tortillas in place of the breadcrumbs that Carmen uses to absorb moisture and help hold the patties together. You could also use cornmeal or flour.
  • If you have time, sauté the chopped onion in a little olive oil before adding to the spinach.
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.

7 comments

  • […] 5, 2010 by Letty Flatt We know all about basil pesto and most of us are familiar with Mexican green cilantro salsa. Did you know about chermoula, the Moroccan green sauce of cilantro and parsley, seasoned with […] Reply · 5 October, 2010

  • Savvy

    your email arrived just in time- bread pudding in the oven. The Irish blessing is perfect to use @ St Patty’s fundraiser today!! Recipes get used tomorrow. Thanks Letty! Reply · 14 March, 2015

  • Sarah Klingenstein

    Great memories! As someone lucky enough to have stayed with Carmen too (Letty introduced us), I can remember so well sitting at her counter and taking notes. Tortas de Espinaca! I was a pretty basic beginner, and I loved that word “espinaca”. Carmen’s pozole is another favorite, though not veggie. Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful dish, Letty! Reply · 14 March, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Sarah. I tried to explain to Carmen how I make vegetarian pozole–and put my recipe on this blog so she could see it! Reply · 15 March, 2015

  • I do admire you Mexican culinary adventures. GREG Reply · 16 March, 2015

  • kathryn deckert

    Letty – the patties were really so delicious with that woderful salsa verde. The cheese i used Oaxaqueno didn’t melt so well no matter they were special treats in the patties. Reply · 16 March, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Kathryn. I am sure any cheese is great in these patties, in fact they are wonderful without too! Reply · 17 March, 2015

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.