Cheap and Easy Homemade Empanadas
When you think you don’t have anything to eat in the house, you most likely have all the ingredients you need to make empanadas. If you have some basics, flour, butter, carrots, onion, garlic, beans, and a potato, then you have all you need to make empanadas. You might also have some some ground turkey or beef in the freezer for a carnivore version, & maybe some fresh parsley or cilantro. If not, it’s ok to use dried herbs for these.
I love making these, it’s fun. I especially like doing the fancy edging, it reminds me of being a kid and playing with play dough.
Start with the pastry crust. In a bowl combine 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 tsp salt. Using your fingers cut in 2 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour.
For gluten free crust, use gluten free baking mix instead of flour, same amounts. For a vegan crust use a combo of Earth Balance buttery spread and Coconut oil in place of the butter, same amounts.
I made whole wheat crust with good old butter. Once the butter is cut into the flour, mix in 8 (or more) tblsp ice water and mix it all together with a fork, being careful not to overmix. Form the pastry dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to rest while you make the filling.
For the filling you can be as creative as you want. I made these by browning 1/2 lb. organic, grass fed ground beef. (Obviously, Skip this part and go right to the next step for vegetarian version) Once it’s cooked through, set aside and drain off the fat. Then add 2 tblsp olive oil to the pan and cook 1 large or 2 small organic potatoes, cut into small dice, salt and pepper, 1/2 chopped onion, 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 2 crushed garlic cloves. Cook until the potatoes are cooked but not mushy, add back the meat along with the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup raisins, a sprinkle of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp Ancho chili powder, a big pinch of dried basil, fresh chopped cilantro, and 1/4 cup beef stock or beer, a pinch of dried coriander powder, and a pinch of cumin. Stir the filling and put it in a bowl in the fridge to cool.
One it’s cooled off, roll out half of your pastry dough ( I like to use two cookie sheets and work in 2 batches) and cut it into 3 or 4 inch circles. Place a heaping tblsp of the filling in the center and fold over, pinching and folding the edge all the way around the half moon shaped pie. Place on a buttered cookie sheet and slice air holes in the top. Brush with scrambled egg. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
That’s basically how I do it. I do it a little differently every time based on the ingredients I have in the house. You can add chopped bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, a cooked hard boiled egg chopped up, sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, spinach, veggie crumbles, tempeh, chard, canned beans, or anything you have on hand that you think would make an awesome empanada filling.
I also made a vegan / gluten free version for my niece by combining chopped sauteed sweet potato, onion, garlic, a can of black beans rinsed and drained, 1 cup chopped chard, 1/4 cup veggie stock, a pinch of cayenne, a pinch of coriander, a pinch of sweet basil, 1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder, cumin and the juice of 1/2 lemon. She loved them!
Serve with hot sauce, guacamole, and plain yogurt or sour cream.