The Recipe

Nicaraguan Tortas de Espinaca

As taught by Jenny Sanchez, of Leon, Nicaragua, to Lindsay Sterling, in Freeport, ME, May 2010

Serves 4-5
Cooking time: 30 min

1 cup white rice
3/4 bunch fresh spinach
2 scallions
1/2 red pepper, medium dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and grated on large wholes of box grater
4 eggs
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili sauce (she used Tapatillo brand)
1-2 tomatoes, medium dice (she didn't have any and used Ketchup!)
about 6 oz. queso fresco (she didn't have any and used Slices of American!)
1/2 cup olive oil (pork fat is used in Nicaragua)

1. Get rice going. In a small pot, saute 1 cup of rice in 2 Tbsp olive oil until the rice is half opaque/half translucent but not brown, add 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Make the batter. Wash spinach twice. Cut mass of leaves into one inch segments, getting smaller through the stems and put all in a medium mixing bowl. Add to spinach: scallions, red pepper, garlic, potato, hot sauce, pepper and salt. Generously cover bottom of a medium pan (she used non-stick) with oil and turn on medium-high. Crack four whole eggs into a separate small bowl. Without whipping or stirring at all first, fold eggs gently into the vegetables so that everything is coated and glistening wet.

3. Lightly fry the tortas. Once oil is hot, fold mixture once or twice (egg will have all drained to bottom) before ladling about ¼ cup of the mixture into the hot oil. Use a flat spatula to encourage a rough pancake shape out of the liquidy mixture as it sizzles. Let fry about 5 minutes without touching until the underside turns toasty brown, and then flip pancake away from you (to prevent hot grease splattering on you) and let the second side brown. (Jenny cooked one torta at a time in a small-ish pan. You can fry many tortas at once, but use a large pan, keeping a good amount of space around each pancake.)

4. Serve. Drain on paper plate or paper towel to soak up excess oil. Serve topped with cheese and tomato, a side of rice and extra hot sauce.

Email me with comments or questions about using this recipe! Lindsay@lindsaysterling.com

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2010