Keftes de Espinaca – Spinach Keftes

Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian Recipe

These small fried patties or croquettes, known as keftes, are popular in the Sephardic Jewish community. They are related to Middle Eastern Arab meatballs, known as kuftas. Unlike kuftas, which are always made with meat, keftes are flattened into disks and come in many different varieties, including meat, lentil, spinach and leek. They are always fried and sometimes finished in sauce. Because they are fried, keftes are often served for Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the oil.

I’m partial to vegetarian keftes made from potatoes and green vegetables, particularly those made from spinach. Spinach was originally grown in Asia and made its way to the Mediterranean during the 8th century A.D. The first Middle Eastern country to cultivate it was Persia; historically, spinach became known as the Persian Green. Since that time, it has been a very popular green throughout the Middle East, prized for its distinct flavor and a myriad of health benefits. Spinach is popular in the Sephardic Jewish community, and keftes are just one of the many ways it is prepared and enjoyed.

These Keftes de Espinaca are irresistible. If you have a family member who is reluctant to eat green leafy vegetables, these keftes may just get them to reconsider! They make a scrumptious appetizer, and can also be served as a vegetarian entrée. They’re a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. If you don’t mind making this into a dairy dish, these keftes are delicious topped with a little Greek yogurt or labaneh.  :)

Make sure you serve these little fritters fresh out of the pan. If they sit out too long, they’ll lose their crispy texture.

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Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian Recipe

Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 10 oz fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne (optional, adds heat)

You will also need

  • Large skillet with lid, mixing bowls, mesh strainer, sheet tray
Total Time: 30 - 45 Minutes
Servings: 12 keftes
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • In a large skillet, warm 1 tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil over medium heat. Sauté minced onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Add crushed garlic, sauté for two minutes longer.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipeAdd half of the fresh spinach and over the skillet, allow the spinach to wilt and shrink slightly, then add remaining half and cover again till all the spinach has wilted.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipeRemove from heat and transfer cooked mixture to a mesh strainer. With a spatula, gently press mixture in the strainer to remove excess moisture.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipeTransfer mixture to a cutting board and roughly chop.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipePlace chopped mixture into a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thouroughly.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipeWith an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture into your hand and form smooth flat patties. Place them onto a sheet tray as you go.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipeHeat remaining ½ cup of oil over medium heat. It should be at about 365 degrees F. Place patties into the hot oil in small batches. Fry until brown, about 4 min on each side. Place on a paper towel or rack to drain.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian RecipeServe immediately.
  • Keftes de Espinaca - Spinach Keftes - Sephardic Vegetarian Recipe

Comments (15)Post a Comment

  1. this looks soooooo good. I need an alternative to regular potato pancakse, we are all trying to lose weight around here!

    kelly

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thanks for this one, Tori! Never heard of these before! They look delicious! My husband (yes, husband — I’m a gay shiksa!!!!) is gonna love it! xox Michael from Long Beach

  3. Tori — SCORE. We went back for a third helping (each!). It probably didn’t hurt that we smothered them in (okay, low-fat) sour cream (from Trader Joe’s, natch!). So guess who was on the elliptical trainer for an hour this morning…..??? xox Michael

  4. since i’m vegen, this recipe looks so good. i[m going to make it tomoorow night for my dinner. thank you!!!!! it’s good to get new recipes that have the added protein in them.

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi,
    Everything sounds so delicious, but what can I use instead of an egg in your recipies? My daughter is allergic to eggs and milk. I have an egg replacer powder that has to be mixed with water but I am not sure it will work for frying. Any ideas, please?

  6. Um…Hel-lo!! Even though last night was the 8th night, we’re gonna try this tonight for Shabbos. It looks so good. Glad to find another crazy shiksa who’s interested in Jewish cooking!!

  7. Hi Tori!
    As the bedikah/verification of fresh spinach is quite time consuming, can we use frozen spinach and if so what would be the right quantity to equal you 10oz of fresh spinach?

    \warm regards

    \sara

  8. Hi there!!!
    My mother used to make something like this when we were children. We called them frititos or fritos. She made them of diferent ingredients, zucchini, spinach, even canned fish, with some fresh herbs, mashed potatos or even apples… We are not jews, but i suppose in latin america is very common to have a touch of sephardic in everything… even if we don’t remember where it came from :)

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