Vegetarian Frituras Easy y Rico.

Madelyn, Karmafree cookingBy Madelyn of KarmaFree Cooking

Some people might find it hard to believe that a Latina can be a vegetarian for 10+ years. Eradicating meat from my diet as a way to eat more healthfully was easy… but, certain things are engrained so deep down in our heritage we just can’t change them that easily.

A life without FRITURAS??? That is something else all-together.

Fried foods are not necessarily considered healthy, but my take is this: when eaten in moderation, why not? Growing up in Puerto Rico with strong influence from my Cuban family, I certainly inherited a love for fried foods. Two of my favorite frituras tied to many childhood memories are Croquetas and Bacalaítos.

Croquetas might be originally from Spain, but they are very much part of the Cuban culture. Ordering a croqueta de jamón (ham) at La España was a way my dad and I bonded before having a MediaNoche or Cuban sandwich. And you need to have a squirt of fresh lime over it… without it, just wasn’t the same.

I even taught several boyfriends to eat a croqueta with lime. Oh, the memories!!

On the Puerto Rican side, bacalaítos have always been my fritura of choice — crispy and greasy, the perfect snack after a day of sun and sand at Balneario de Luquillo or when browsing over the artesanías at Fiestas de San Sebastián.

As a vegetarian following a healthier, more natural lifestyle I don’t see a need to deprive myself completely of my favorite frituras… I just had to tweak them a bit.

Spinach croquetas are easy to make and a great way to introduce spinach to picky eaters – the fried package is a great enabler. And time taught me the true, real flavor in bacalaítos (cod fritters) comes from the seasoning in the batter, not the salted codfish… that’s how BacalaFREEtos came to be – great to make before going out where real bacalaítos might be present, to avoid any temptations, or created as a by-product after battering something else, like eggplants.

Enjoy these frituras… now, the vegetarian way!

Spinach Croquetas Recipe


How to:

We will be basically making a thick béchamel to mix with the spinach, breading and then frying.

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, butter, onions and garlic. Sautee them until they become softened. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the pieces of garlic and add the spelt flour and stir all together to form a paste. Move around the saucepan a bit to cook the paste as much as you can to avoid having a raw flour taste afterwards.

After about 1-2 minutes of cooking the onion/flour paste, slowly add the milk while whisking. Whisking will prevent lumps from forming. Continue whisking once in a while until the mixture starts to bubble. It’ll need to bubble to know how thick the sauce will really be. Add more milk if you believe the sauce is too thick, but it needs to be on the thick side to withstand the frying later.

Remove from the heat and add the dry spinach. Season with salt and pepper again. Mix together well to avoid having big lumps of spinach.

Take the mixture out of the sauce pan to help it cool off. You can place in the refrigerator, if you’d like.
After the spinach béchamel has cooled, we can start making the croquetas.

Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow container. Set aside.

In a large skillet, pour about ½ inch of canola oil and allow it to become hot enough for frying.

While the oil heats up, we take about 1 tsp of spinach mixture and roll it in our hands to make a ball.

croquetas karmafreecooking

Roll the ball in the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat it well on all sides

Place breaded balls in the hot oil to fry. It’ll take about 5 minutes to cook on all sides until they’re golden brown.
The croquetas are delicate so the best way to handle them while frying them is using 2 forks. Use the forks to roll them from one side to another to ensure they cook well on all sides and to take them out of the oil.

Make sure the first side has cooked enough and is crispy to withstand being moved. If you move them too soon, they will just break and form a sloppy mess on the frying pan.

Drain the croquetas on paper towels while they cool off a bit.

Madelyn is a lacto-vegetarian living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She became a vegetarian after practicing Yoga seriously 10+ years ago and over the years she developed an increased appreciation for cooking and developing recipes. Since 2007, she has written KarmaFree Cooking, a vegetarian blog and tweets at @karmafreecookin.



Share, por favor!

By Contributor on July 18, 2011 · Posted in food, headline

17 Comments | Post Comment

Vegetarian Frituras… well, of course!!! « KarmaFree Cooking says:

[...] 18 Jul I am very, very happy today… because I joined the Tiki Tiki Blog family as a contributor guest blogger.  The Tiki Tiki posted a story I wrote on how the words Latina and Vegetarian are not mutually exclusive and how us … [...]

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Carla says:

Another Latina (Cuban) vegetarian? Hooray, I’m not alone! I love spinach and croquetas so I’m putting this in on the menu plan this week. Gracias!

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Madelyn says:

Carrie… GRACIAS MIL. This came out sooooo nice. I hope your Tiki Tiki readers enjoy my vegetarian versions of Croquetas and Bacalaítos. I sure have a great time making them, and most of all, eating them. I hope this is the first of more collaborating posts. Thanks again.

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Madelyn says:

I am glad you like them Carla… we need to watch our figures, but a fritura once in a while keep our blood oil levels in check!!! ;) please visit KarmaFree Cooking for more vegetarian Latin recipes…

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Frituras Vegetarianas… por supuesto!!! « KarmaFree Cooking En Español says:

[...] Hoy me siento muy, pero que muy feliz… porque me he unido a la familia del Tiki Tiki Blog como una bloguera contribuyente.   Hoy, el Tiki Tiki Blog incluyó un post que escribí para ellos sobre como las palabras Latina y Vegetari… [...]

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Maria Amelia says:

Frituras. Insert (almost) any word in front of it and it will taste delish! But I appreciate the veggie-ness of these. Thanks for putting it out there.

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Mercedes @BeChicMag says:

What a great concept! Never thought of ‘vegetarian frituras.’ Great alternative for non-vegetarians too.

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love says:

I dont think I’ve ever had either but, trust me, as a Dominican I get where you are coming from! Though not a vegetarian (I’m so picky I would probably starve without meat), I also grew up with fried snacks. Queso pancho, anyone? Lol.

Glad to see there are healthier friend options :-)

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Bren says:

only you Mady could get away with making an appetizing spinach croqueta! Very genius… You’d laugh if I told you of the one my mom made up for my sis whom was also a vegetarian for 10 year…. I’ll DM you! haha.

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Ericka says:

These are great! I always have so much spinach left over in my fridge and now I know what to do with it. These are kid friendly too! Thank you!

Posted on July 18th, 2011

rachel says:

I’m boricua – hand over the fritura. The veggie one too. Great idea.

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Presley's Pantry says:

My mom is a vegetarian and I cook like a vegetarian a couple of times a week to make her happy…. I’m going to have to try these spinach croquetas! Thank you for sharing.

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Mariana says:

My kids would totally eat these! Anything that looks like a nugget LOL. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and giving me someone new to follow. Following Madelyn on Twitter now! ;)

Posted on July 18th, 2011

The Duo Dishes-Chrystal says:

Vegetarians (and vegans for that matter) can eat verrrrry well and adapt many cultural dishes to fit their needs. It’s fun to tweak traditional recipes, which can sometimes lighten them up a bit too. We could all use a little bit more healthy in our lives. Great recipe!

Posted on July 18th, 2011

Aurelia Flores says:

This recipe looks great! Thanks for the suggestion of the substitution of spinach. I suppose other veggies would work as well? Yummy…

Posted on July 18th, 2011

beautylogicblog says:

I’m a proud Latina and my mother has been vegan for 15 years. She looks amazing. I must try this recipe.

Posted on July 19th, 2011

Chantilly Patiño says:

Thank you for the great spinach recipe! It’s such a great veggie that I would love to integrate more! :)

Posted on July 21st, 2011