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Tortas de Espinaca Carmen/Spinach Patties with Salsa Verde
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5 from 1 vote

Vegetarian Spinach Patties with Tomatillo Sauce

Served with a warm tomatillo green sauce, these spinach patties (tortas de espinaca) can be made with fresh or frozen spinach.  Recipe can easily be doubled. Makes about 6 patties--figure 2 per person.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cakes, patties, spinach, tomatillo
Servings: 3 servings.
Calories: 146kcal


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


To make the spinach patties:

  • ** 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.
  • ** Frozen spinach: Thaw the spinach. Put in a sieve and press very well to remove as much excess water as possible.
  • In a bowl, mix the pressed spinach with the chopped onion, garlic and cilantro. (see note) Using a fork, stir in the egg, salt and pepper. Stir in the corn tortilla meal or breadcrumbs, just enough so that the mixture holds together.
  • 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.)
  • 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:

  • 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.


  • 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.


Serving: 2g | Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 728mg | Potassium: 1499mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 21724IU | Vitamin C: 77mg | Calcium: 306mg | Iron: 7mg