I have such exciting news!! For the first time… I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday #54 at The Novice Gardener this week with (sincerely) my oldest blogosphere friend Sonal of Simply Vegetarian 777. Woo hoo! 🙂 In case you don’t already know- Fiesta Friday is a fabulous blogging potluck party. It is a wonderful way to share recipes (etc.!), network with other bloggers, and to make friends out there in the blogosphere. It’s such a friendly and supportive group- I look forward to our get together every week. 🙂 Sonal and I will be there this week to greet all of the guests!
I am bringing a special dish for this special occasion… vegetarian empanadas! I have been obsessed with empanadas for some time. When my husband and I lived in Chicago, we attended many potluck parties with his co-workers- many of whom were South American. We ate SUCH good food!! (I have absolutely NO memory of my contribution to these potlucks either… ) The two stand-out dishes were empanadas and tortilla espanola. mmmmm…. I have been saying that I really needed to make empanadas ever since. I don’t know what I was waiting for… (as that was long long ago- and this was my first attempt!)
So… I recently revisited my love for empanadas in New York City on my son’s birthday. We went to look at sofas (to sit on them- you know that you can’t buy a sofa if you have never sat on it!) on his actual birthday- it sounds terrible but I assure you that the rest of the day was full of much more fun events!! We also told him (bribed him…) that we hoped that the empanada truck would be near the Pottery Barn on the Upper West Side. When we arrived it could not have been better than if we had planned it- the empanada truck –and a grilled cheese truck for my daughter!- were parked RIGHT outside of the store. So lucky- what great fortune! TONS of varieties of empanadas too- absolutely delicious!!
I put empanadas back on the top of my “to do” list but searched for vegetarian versions (my preference). For my first filling, I adapted this wonderful recipe from Food and Wine, contributed by Mauricio Couly and Piero Incisa Della Rocchetta. The original recipe had a paprika dough for which I substituted a whole wheat cream cheese dough. I also modified the greens as well as the herbs and seasonings in the filling. The dough was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. Easy, tender, and FABULOUS!!!
Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas
For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 3/4 tsp coarse salt
- 9 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice
For the Filling:
- 10 ounces spinach, stemmed (I used a combination of spinach, baby kale, and chard)
- 1/2 cup shelled fava beans (thawed if frozen)
- 1/4 pound trimmed green beans
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
- With the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
- On a large piece of plastic wrap, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
- Make the Filling: In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the greens for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or an Asian spider skimmer, transfer the greens to a colander. Drain.
- Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green, 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or an Asian spider skimmer, transfer the fava beans to a plate.
- Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, 4 minutes. Drain and finely chop the green beans.
- Peel the tough outer skins from the fava beans.
- Squeeze the excess water from the greens, then coarsely chop.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the greens, fava beans, green beans and peas and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I used a bowl), cut 9 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.
- Mound 2 tablespoons of the vegetable filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling.
- Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and heated through. Serve the empanadas warm or at room temperature.
One Year Ago:
Two Years Ago: