Hands down, this is my favorite vegetarian dish (well, I use chicken stock but you can use vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)! These spinach patties are delicious with the sauce or without it. They take some work to make but it’s totally worth it. Let me walk you through the process… The printable is below.
Do you know how sometimes you can clearly tell that someone who entered your life had a certain purpose?
Well, my ex-mother-in-law’s purpose in my life was to teach me how to make these spinach patties!
I’m not making fun (well… maybe a little), these patties are the kind of food that you put in your mouth and wonder where has it been all your life. How did I not know that something this delicious existed?
Why is no one handing this recipe out on every street corner? Why don’t restaurants serve this? How come gardeners around the world don’t know that they can make this with their fresh greens? How did I even exist before these patties?
A bit much? Ok, maybe…
But seriously, if you’ve ever had a doubt that heaven is right here on earth it means you haven’t made spinach patties in lemon, garlic, and cilantro sauce!
Spinach Patties Recipe…
I got you, honey! I’ll show you how to make this deliciousness from start to finish so next time you harvest a bunch of greens from your garden you know exactly what to do with them.
I titled this post spinach patties because I used spinach here. I also tried it with baby kale and chard. Chard works really well!
You can also try a mix of spinach, kale, chard, and maybe even beet greens. They all work very well for this dish.
If you are not a gardener, you can definitely just use spinach from the store (I used a couple of bags of spinach mixed with baby kale for this post).
However, homegrown greens are so much more flavorful than the ones we get from the store so I want to encourage you to get your leaves at the farmer’s market if you don’t want to grow them yourself.
Also, chard is usually very cheap at the farmer’s market because no one knows what to do with it and it works so well in this dish so just remember that if you pass by a pile of unwanted chard.
Anyway, let’s get to it…
Kitchen Tools We’ll Need to Make These Spinach Patties…
We are going to need a few kitchen tools to put this together…
A pasta pot – to steam the spinach. I’ve tried a few different ways to do this but the pasta pot works best.
Tongs – we’ll use the tongs to mix the spinach during the steaming process and to transfer it to the food processor.
Food processor – to process the spinach.
Large mixing bowl – to mix all of the ingredients.
Spatula – to help us mix the ingredients and transfer the processed spinach from the food processor to the mixing bowl.
Nonstick pan – we are going to use the pan both to fry the patties and to cook them in the sauce. I find that it’s best to use nonstick.
Turner – to turn the patties when we fry them. I find that the fish turner works the best.
Baking sheet and rack – After I fry the patties, I find that it’s best to place them on a cookie cooling rack. I place a baking sheet under it to catch the little bit of oil but you don’t have to do it this way. You can just transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel.
All right, this is all we need. Let me show you how I do this…
Preparing the Spinach…
For the sake of a nice photo, I emptied the two bags of spinach (13.25 oz each) that I used into a large mixing bowl. You don’t have to do this, of course. You can just add the spinach to the pasta pot.
Usually, a pasta pot comes with two steamer inserts, I fill the pot with a couple of inches of water and use the deeper steamer insert…
Then, I add the spinach to the pot, cover the pot with its lid, and turn the heat on high…
Once the water is boiling it only takes a few minutes for the spinach to wilt. We don’t want it completely mushy, just wilted a little bit.
I make sure to use my tongs to mix the spinach a bit because many times the leaves on the bottom wilt and cover the holes of the steamer and it’s hard for steam to pass by and wilt the spinach that is on the top.
Once the spinach is ready, I turn the heat off and set the steamer as you see in the picture. I give the spinach a few minutes to dry a bit and to cool.
Next, I use the tongs to transfer the spinach to the food processor. I pulse it a few times until it’s processed…
Then, I use my spatula to help me transfer the processed spinach into a large mixing bowl.
Mixing the Ingredients For the Spinach Patties…
And I mix it all together.
Now that the mixture is ready we can move on to frying!
Frying the Spinach Patties…
I heat 1/2 inch of oil (canola or vegetables) in a nonstick pan and when the oil is hot I add the patties.
I usually turn the heat to high and check with a wooden toothpick if the oil is hot. I stick the toothpick in the oil and if it’s hot enough there will be bubbles forming around the toothpick. When the oil is hot, I turn the heat down to medium-high before I add the patties.
You can use your hands to form the patties but I usually use two regular tablespoons to form small patties.
After a few minutes on the first side, I use my turner to flip them to the other side for a few more minutes of frying. You can see how the bottom is golden. This tells us that the patty is ready to flip.
After a few more minutes on the other side, I use the turner again to remove the patties from the pan and place them on the cooling rack to cool.
Ok, so really, you can stop here and just eat them like that. They are great in a sandwich (mayo, spinach patties, and fresh or fermented tomato) or just as a meal or an appetizer on their own (you can try making a garlic dip or something like that to dip them in).
You can also freeze them at this stage. Then whenever you want to eat them you can heat them in the oven (you don’t have to wait for them to defrost).
Or, if they are frozen and you want to make the sauce that I am about to share with you below to cook them in, then let them defrost first.
Preparing the Ingredients For the Sauce…
I use three bunches of cilantro leaves for the sauce. I know it’s a lot but stay with me here…
I remove the stems and only use the leaves. I make sure to wash the cilantro very well (the cilantro that I buy at the grocery store usually has a lot of sand in it)…
Aside from the cilantro leaves, we’ll also need a cup and a half of chicken stock (or vegetable stock), the juice of two medium lemons (I squeezed the lemons right into the chicken broth), and 7 (yes seven!) minced garlic cloves.
It’s important to set all this before we start to cook the sauce because this is all going to go petty quickly and we don’t want the garlic to burn.
Cooking the Spinach Patties in the Sauce…
I heat four tablespoons of olive oil in the nonstick pan (I got rid of the frying oil and cleaned it) and add the minced garlic.
I make sure that the heat is on medium so the garlic doesn’t burn. I also make sure to move the garlic around constantly.
After a couple of minutes, when the garlic is fragrant, I add the chicken stock (you can substitute with vegetable stock if you want to make this a vegetarian dish) and the lemon juice and stir.
After a couple of minutes, I add the cilantro leaves and stir them in…
Once the cilantro leaves are wilted (this takes two or three minutes), I season the sauce with salt and black pepper.
Then, I add the spinach patties. I made 28 patties from this amount of mixture but I could not fit all of them into the pot. I put them close together and fit as many as I could.
Then, I cover the pan and cook this on medium heat for five to seven minutes.
Serving Spinach Patties…
Once the patties are ready, I turn the heat off and let them cool for a few minutes. Then, it’s time to dig in!
The patties absorb most of the sauce and get this lemony and garlicky taste that is such a great complement to the spinach leaves.
I usually serve these patties with simple white rice or with delicious bread.
It’s practically illegal to serve this with just any old regular bread from the store. It’s pretty much comparable to Kim Kardashian riding in a Toyota Corolla.
They don’t go together…
Of course, I am going to tell you to make your own bread and I am going to suggest this crusty, no-knead artisan bread that is super easy to make and goes amazingly with these spinach patties, but you can also make sourdough or any other kind.
If you get bread from the store, get something special from the bakery.
If you are going the rice route, you can also do brown rice, bulgur, or quinoa.
Ok, that’s it. Now don’t waste any time and go make this dish!
Blessings to all the ex-mother-in-laws around the world!
If you liked this vegetarian dish, also try these…
- 16.5 oz of spinach (you can also try kale, beet greens, or chard)
- 4 oz goat cheese (or feta cheese)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup matzo meal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Enough canola or vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan
For the Sauce...
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (you can substitute with vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian)
- Juice from 2 lemons
- 7 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 bunches of cilantro leaves (remove stems and wash well)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Add 2 inches of water to a pasta pot. Place the deep steamer inside the pot, add the spinach, place on the stovetop and turn the heat to high. Once the water starts to boil, it only takes a few minutes for the spinach to wilt.
- Once the spinach leaves are wilted, lift the steamer and set it at an angle over the pot (suspended. See post for a photo) to allow the water to drain and the spinach to cool.
- After a few minutes, transfer the spinach to a food processor. Pulse the processor a few times until the spinach is processed.
- Add the processed spinach to a mixing bowl and add cheese, eggs, matzo meal, salt and black pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together (if the mixture is too wet, add a little bit more matzo meal).
- Heat about 1/2 inch of canola or vegetable oil to a 12-inch nonstick pan.
- When the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium-high and use your hands or two regular tablespoons to form small patties from the mixture and lower them to the oil.
- Fry the patties for a few minutes on the first side. When you notice that the bottom starts to become golden, flip the patties and fry for a few minutes on the other side.
- Once the patties are ready, remove them from the oil and set on a cooling rack or on a plate lined with a paper towel.
You can stop here and just eat them fried in a sandwich, as a meal or an appetizer (try making a garlic dip to go with them), or you can freeze them (see the notes section for more info on freezing). Or you can make the sauce and cook them in the sauce.
- To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick pan. Lower the heat to medium-high, add the minced garlic and fry it for a couple of minutes (to make sure it doesn't burn, stir it constantly).
- Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock), lemon juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until the sauce comes to a boil (this should take a couple of minutes).
- Add the patties to the pot (I usually can't fit all of them so I just add as many as I can), cover the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and let the patties cool for a few minutes before serving with white or brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, or special bread.
To freeze the patties, just wait for them to cool. Then place them in a ziplock bag and freeze. This is a great way to preserve greens.
When you want to eat them you can take them out of the freezer, set them in one layer on a baking sheet (still frozen) and bake at 400 F for a few minutes.
If you want to cook them in the sauce, take them out of the freezer, let them thaw, then make the sauce and add them to it.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 28 Serving Size: 1 pattie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 66Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 99mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g