We are on to Day 5 of our A – Z Baking around the World and I realized that I did not have that many savory bakes planned out at all. Going through my bookmarks, I came across this Vegetarian Empanada recipe from Argentina. We love Spanish flavors and I thought this Empanada will be something that everyone in my family would love. The website I got inspired from to make these Empanadas has 4 different vegetarian filling option to choose from and I chose to make the Onion and the Cheese Empanada.
It is very interesting to realize that every cuisine has some similarity between them. Like this empanadas in Central America, there is Calzone in Italy and Samosa or Puff in Indian cuisine. There is a slight difference in the dough and the filling which is altered based on local availability of ingredients.
The Empanada shell are easily available in the super market, but since I was making it for the special month long Marathon, I decided to make my own. The dough for the empanada is quite rich and buttery. It is more like a pastry dough that makes the empanadas very flaky and tender. This was the first time, I have used Gouda cheese and I was very happy to have tried it out. My boys loved the cheese and ate the left over piece of cheese by itself.
I used Spanish sweet onions for the filling. You can use any onion, but make sure you caramelize them and let it sweat under low to medium heat to ensure that it releases its sweet juices. I also added crushed red pepper to satisfy our spice loving palette. My MIL is here with us now and she does not like cheese. I made a few of the empanadas with just the onions and she really enjoyed it.
Coming to shaping of the empanada, I wanted to try out the rolling technique that is used in many of the Indian desserts like this Kusli from Chhattisgarh. I had used fork to seal the edges when I made them couple of year back, but this time, I tried out the rolling technique. It was one of the most effective way to keep the filling inside and I would highly recommend trying this technique out instead of using the fork. It does take a bit of practice and is a little time consuming, but definitely worth the effort.
Preparation time – 20 minutes plus 3 hours of chilling time
Cooking / Baking time – 20 minutes plus 30 to 40 minutes of baking time per batch
Difficulty level – Intermediate
Recipe inspired by – At the Immigrants Table
Ingredients to make the Empanadas – Makes about 24 medium Empanadas
For the Dough –
- All purpose flour – 2 1/2 cup
- Butter (chilled and cubed) – 8 tbsp (1 stick)
- Cold water – about 1/2 cup
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
For the filling –
- Spanish sweet onions – 2 (large, thinly sliced)
- Gouda Cheese – 3/4 cup
- Oregano (dried) – 1 tsp
- Crushed red pepper – 2 tsp (optional)
- Salt – to taste
- Oil – 1 tbsp
To Assemble the Empanadas –
- Heavy cream or milk – to brush the empanadas
- Sesame seeds – to sprinkle
Procedure to make the Empanadas –
To make the Empanada dough / cover –
- In the bowl of food processor or in a large bowl, measure the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix.
- Add the chilled and cubed butter and combine them well until it resembles bread crumbs. I used my food processor and hence pulsed it a few times to combine the butter with the flour. Make sure you don’t run the machine continuously as that will increase the temperature and melt the butter.
- Slowly add the cold water until a stiff dough forms.
- Divide the dough into 2 halves and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or at least for 3 hours.
To make the filling –
- Thinly slice the onions.
- In a pan heat the oil and then add the caramelized onions. Add the salt, crushed red pepper and the oregano and let the onions cook in low to medium heat until light brown and aromatic (about 15 minutes).
- Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
To assemble the Empanadas –
- Remove the refrigerated dough and roll it into thin circle.
- Cut out about 3 inches wide circles from the dough using a lid or cookie cutter. You could use bigger size as well. I made my empanadas about 3 inch wide.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough and then re-roll the scraps and cut them out again.
- Place about 1 tbsp of onion mixture on one half of the circle and add about 1 tsp of grated cheese.
- cover the filling with the other half of the dough (form a semi circle) and pinch the corners well. At this point, you could seal the empanadas using a fork or by folding the edges over each other (like I did). Whatever method you follow, make sure you seal them well.
- Place the prepared empanadas in a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Using a fork, make several holes on each empanada, so that the steam can release when baking.
Baking the Empanadas –
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Brush the empanadas using egg wash, cream or milk. I use a combination of cream and milk.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the empanadas.
- Place the baking sheet in the middle rack and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Serve hot with salsa!
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