So, how do you make your own empanadas when your life’s travels haven’t exactly taken you to El Salvador? With leftovers, killer flavors, and a little creativity. And by “a little creativity,” I mean, “a little bit of store-bought pie crust.” While I’ll willingly acknowledge that these aren’t exactly authentic, as those who can make them from scratch would (rightfully) argue, they’re still super easy and pretty darn delicious for a cold week night’s supper.
When I think of empanadas, my mind also wanders towards other “dough + filling = best comfort food ever.” Cornish pasties (hello, favorite British snack, apart from tubes of Jaffa cakes), calzones, stromboli, and even dumplings (like those at the KILLER brunch at Silver Spring’s Oriental East. To. Die. For.) are all delicious, but empanadas have that special Latin flavor that keeps me coming back for more.
These empanadas only have a few requirements: pre-made pie crust (if you’re enough of a self-starter to have made your own from scratch, then go you! If you don’t, a Pillsbury or store brand crust is fine), some filling fixins in your pantry and fridge, and an egg or two for an egg wash. Stuff, close up, bake and go! Couldn’t be easier, and couldn’t be tastier.
DIY Empanadas — makes two entree-sized empanadas, or four smaller empanadas. You can also easily double (or triple, or quadruple) the recipe, depending on how much you have of each ingredient.
- 1 pre-made pie crust
- 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, shredded
- 1/2 cup shredded or sliced cheese of your preference (Jack, Cheddar, or Oaxaca cheese are awesome)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1 egg, beaten
Here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Using food scissors or a knife, cut 1 pie crust into 2 halves. Spread them apart on a baking sheet.
- Mix your shredded meat with any spices that you like (I like adding a little cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and lime juice); place up to 1/2 cup on one half of the crust half. Top with up to 1/2 cup black beans, 1/4 cup salsa, and shredded cheese. Do the same for the second crust half.
- To seal your empanada, fold the crust over on itself to create an unsealed pocket. Flatten out any air bubbles; then, use a fork to crimp the edges and seal your empanada closed. (This will resemble a pie crust on a two-crusted pie.) Once they’re completely sealed, use a fork or knife to prick a few holes in the top to release any steam while they bake. (Otherwise your empanada may explode. Cool, yes, but also a little gross for your poor oven.)
- Beat the egg separately in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to brush this egg wash over the tops of each empanada.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Eat to your heart’s content. Nommy nom nom.
A few tips:
- You can easily make these vegetarian by omitting the chicken or turkey. For an extra punch of nutrition, flavor and fiber, add steamed chunks of butternut squash or sweet potato.
- To make these vegan, use a vegan pie crust (check here for a fabulous recipe from the folks at Vegan Baking), omit the meat, and replace the Oaxaca or other cheese with either store-bought vegan cheese (such as Daiya) or homemade cashew cheese, like this recipe from the fabulous Somer at Veged Out.
- For extra nutritional content and veggies, try adding shredded steamed kale or spinach. Just make sure to wring out the greens of all excess moisture — you don’t want a mushy pastry mess from too-wet filling.
Are you folks fans of empanadas? Do you have another favorite dough & filling food? It’s hard to go wrong with this combination — what are some of your favorites? Happy eating!