“Green” Empanadas

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!!!

Please join us for Fiesta Friday #54 at The Novice Gardener this week!! Click here for the guidelines to join in the fun.

Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas

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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

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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
  1. 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.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, 4 minutes. Drain and finely chop the green beans.
  7. Peel the tough outer skins from the fava beans.
  8. Squeeze the excess water from the greens, then coarsely chop.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Stir in the cilantro and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Vegetable Strudel Casserole

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I tend to make dishes with a similar theme or flavor-profile. This dish sounded original and different- outside of the box for me. Then Nancy of Feasting with Friends Blog posted a Veggie Strudel on the same day I was making this one! So, I suppose this dish isn’t that original…. but it was tasty. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. I modified the recipe by baking it as a casserole instead of in individual pieces- seemed much neater that way! I also modified it by increasing the mushrooms, onions, and scallions, using cauliflower instead of broccoli, and by adding green beans. I also sprayed each layer of phyllo dough with canola oil spray instead of brushing with olive oil; I did brush the top layer with olive oil prior to baking. Very nice.

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onions, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 to 3 cups chopped cauliflower or broccoli (about a generous quarter of a large head)
  • 1 cup trimmed and chopped green beans, optional
  • 10 oz button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 to 2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 10 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T minced fresh dill
  • 7 scallions, greens and whites, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup fine bread crumbs, separated
  • canola oil cooking spray
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound phyllo dough leaves, thawed
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (convection). Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking pan. (I use an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Make the Filling: Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the carrot, cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, and 1 tsp salt. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring intermittently, until the vegetables are just tender (about 5 minutes).
  3. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the caraway, garlic, lemon juice, dill, scallions, pepper, cheese, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Remove half of the phyllo dough leaves from the package and sandwich between two pieces of plastic wrap. Cover with a damp towel.
  5. Lay one sheet of phyllo in the oiled baking pan and lightly spray with canola oil or lightly brush with olive oil. Continue layering the sheets of dough, adding oil between each layer, until 1/2 pound of dough (1/2 package) is used.
  6. Sprinkle the stack of phyllo with the remaining 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.
  7. Add the filling, spreading it to within 1/2 inch of the edges.
  8. Layer more phyllo dough over the filling, spraying or brushing each layer with oil. Use the entire box. Brush olive oil over the top layer.

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One Year Ago:

Thai Green Curry with Chicken

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I love Thai curries. My go-to Thai takeout dish is ALWAYS red curry- so this was a nice change of pace. 🙂 This dish is a super-quick cook made with store-bought curry paste.

I adapted this Everyday Food recipe by using a combination of chicken meat, adding shallots, green peppers, and coconut oil, and by serving it over brown rice. It was a wonderful end-of-summer dish as it made use of my grill, garden basil, and CSA green beans and bell pepper, while also being the warm and filling meal perfect for a cool evening. Healthy, flavorful, and delicious!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 12 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) green beans, stem ends removed, halved crosswise
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced large
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 medium to large shallot, halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast and 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) coconut milk (I used light coconut milk)
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Season the chicken meat with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the meat to cook. Cut into 1-inch pieces, set aside.
  2. Cook rice according to package instructions. (I cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of chicken stock for 30-40 minutes.)
  3. Meanwhile, place cornstarch in a small bowl; whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken stock until smooth (reserve remaining stock). Set aside.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and shallot; cook, tossing frequently, until they begin to soften, then add the green beans and bell pepper. Continue to cook until vegetables begin to soften as well, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add curry paste to green beans and onion in skillet. Cook, stirring and scraping bottom of skillet, until paste is slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add chicken, coconut milk, cornstarch mixture, and reserved chicken broth. Simmer until vegetables are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
  7. Add basil and lime juice. Season with salt, and stir to combine; serve over rice.

One Year Ago:

Herbed Ricotta Pasta with Corn & Zucchini

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Every summer my kids take swimming lessons at our nearby beach on the Long Island Sound. We “have to” go to the beach every afternoon for two weeks. It is so wonderful. It is such a joy in my life! My friends and I relax and enjoy the beach and our kids play for HOURS before and after their lessons. The funny part is that because I am so tired from being so relaxed (?), it is difficult to make dinner when we finally come home!

This quick and easy dish was inspired by my friend talking about her plan to eat TONS of zucchini during an upcoming visit with her Mom. The recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. Perfect after a long afternoon at the beach- a perfect summer dish for Angie’s Fiesta Friday #30 at the Novice Gardener, co-hosted by Margy of La Petite Casserole. Wonderful dishes are shared- it is fun to check it out!

  • 3 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1-2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 cup chopped (1-inch pieces) pole beans
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 ounces whole wheat farfalle, or other medium-sized pasta
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 generous cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (I use the convection roast setting).
  2. Place chopped zucchini on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender. Set aside.
  3. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, herbs, and zucchini in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in the boiling water 3 minutes less that the suggested cooking time. Add the beans and corn and cook together the remaining 3 minutes.
  5. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Then drain the pasta, corn, and beans. Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs and add to the ricotta mixture.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the ricotta mixture. Stir to form a light sauce.
  7. Add the pasta and beans to the sauce and toss to coat. Add more pasta water if necessary to achieve the desired sauce consistency and coverage.

Note: I use any remaining pasta water to add to the leftovers prior to refrigerating; it helps maintain moisture when reheating.

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One Year Ago:

Broccoli Salad with Hazelnut Romesco Sauce

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My husband and I fell in love with romesco sauce in Barcelona. We ate it several times with grilled ramps. I have been meaning to make it for years but it has just never happened! My husband spotted this recipe in the New York Times and I was excited to finally make it. It was very timely as well because we had just received long red peppers and Roma tomatoes in our CSA share AND we had just brought home fabulous Long Island broccoli from the farm stand.

The sauce is DELICIOUS!! The recipe makes enough sauce for this dish with plenty of leftovers. According to the recipe, it can keep in the fridge for at least a week. We are excited to eat the extra sauce over potatoes, green beans, or grilled tuna. It could also be served with shrimp or lobster. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. GREAT!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 medium red bell peppers, halved and cored (or long red peppers)
  • 1 plum tomato, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup toasted, peeled hazelnuts, more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs or panko
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or 1 teaspoon honey, more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a 425 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Peel.
  2. Heat the broiler. Arrange an oven rack in the position closest to flame. Place peppers (cut side down), tomato halves (cut-side up) and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until peppers and garlic are slightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn garlic (but do not turn peppers or tomato); broil 1 to 2 minutes longer until garlic is well browned but not burned. Transfer garlic to a large bowl. Continue broiling peppers and tomatoes until both are well charred, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer tomato and peppers to the bowl with the garlic. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand until vegetables are cool enough to handle but still warm, then peel peppers and tomatoes.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse hazelnuts until coarsely ground. Add peppers, tomato, garlic, breadcrumbs, oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, paprika and salt. Purée until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scrape romesco into a bowl.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Boil broccoli until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to ice water; drain.
  5. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with enough romesco to coat vegetables well. (Reserve any remaining romesco for dipping or for another use.) Garnish with hazelnuts, if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken with Leeks & Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce

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This is a wonderful classic French white wine sauce used in a classic dish “Poulet aux Champignons avec une Sauce au Vin Blanc”. My husband LOVES French bistro food, and, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I made this dish when his parents were visiting recently. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes by Rachel Khoo. I modified the recipe by cooking the chicken in the tasty sauce and by adding leeks and green beans for color and flavor. We ate it with roasted asparagus and roasted potatoes on the side, but it would be nice served over rice or pasta as well. The sauce could also be served over fish, steamed vegetables or boiled potatoes.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Sauce:

  • 3 T butter
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock, lukewarm
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 T heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 lb chicken breasts (approximately 4 boneless, skinless), cut into strips or chunks
  • 10 oz button mushrooms, brushed, sliced
  • 2 leeks, cut into half moons and washed
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, optional
  • handful of fresh dill, parsley, and/or tarragon
  1. Brown the chicken. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Generously sprinkle the chicken breast pieces with salt on both sides and lay them into the pan in a single layer. When browned underneath, about 2 minutes, flip them over and reduce the heat to medium. Cook on the other side until browned and medium-rare (a little slit in the thickest part will reveal a rosy interior), 2 to 3 minutes more, depending on the size of the slices or chunks. Transfer to a plate.
  2. In the pan used for the chicken, brown the mushrooms and leeks, adding more oil if necessary. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the flour and beat until you have a smooth paste (roux). (I have a flat whisk which is wonderful to use for this application.) Continue to beat until the roux begins to have a golden color. Take off the heat and gradually add the warm stock, whisking constantly.
  4. Place the pan back over medium heat and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, whisking frequently to ensure none of the sauce burns on the bottom of the pan. If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in a little more stock.
  5. Add the wine and continue simmering for 10 to 15 minutes, until desired consistency is achieved.
  6. Add the chicken and green beans to the sauce and continue cooking for several minutes, until chicken is cooked through and beans are still crisp but cooked.
  7. Take off the heat and whisk in the cream and lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the mushrooms and leeks.
  8. To serve, sprinkle with fresh herbs.

One Year Ago: Shrimp and Herb Risotto

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