Empanadas are one of my favorite treats. A warm, flavorful center enveloped by a buttery, flaky crust makes for a delicious appetizer or main course. I ventured to my neighborhood grocery store to find some local cheeses for the inside of the empanada. I used a Swiss cheese, mild cheddar, and some queso fresco. I sprinkled some of the queso fresco on top and used some of it for the inside of the empanada. But feel free to experiment with any cheese combination that you like for this.
You can add meat to this as well, I would do a slow cooked pork. But I decided to make it vegetarian as I’m trying to keep food costs low because of all the cash I’ve had to spend on heating my house in this ridiculously cold weather. If you wanted to add a seasonal twist to the empanada and still keep it vegetarian, you could try a sweet potato empanada. To cook the sweet potato, simply peel and cut the sweet potato into large chunks. Allow it to boil for about 20 minutes, or until a fork easily punctures it. Once the sweet potatoes are fully cooked, puree them by hand or with a hand mixer.
You can make you own salsa for this if you like. I made a seasonal pomegranate salsa a few weeks back for Hispanic Kitchen that could be an interesting compliment to the dish. The recipe also goes really well with a smoked chipotle salsa or a salsa verde.
Whenever the dough sticks to your hands or the rolling pin add more flour. Don’t over knead the dough or it won’t be a light and flaky texture. Get creative with this and fill your empanada with whatever you like.
Three Cheese Empanadas
For the dough:
2 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
Pinch raw sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1 cup mild cheddar, grated
1 cup queso fresco (reserve ½ for sprinkling on top)
1/2 cup black beans, cooked (optional)
1/2 cup iceberg lettuce, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg white and 2 tbsp water combined
1. Combine dry ingredients and vegetable shortening. Gradually add water until dough forms.
2. Knead for a few minutes by hand or using the dough hook attachment on your electric mixer. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for at least 1 hour.
3. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it’s 1/8-inch thick.
4. Cut out 6-inch disks from the dough.
5. Combine the ingredients for the filling. Place a generous spoon full on each, depending on how full you like them to be, and then fold the dough over. Pinch it tight with a fork and then paint with egg wash.
6. Fill a deep pot with about 5 inches of oil. Heat it up to 360 degrees and fry each until golden brown. About 2 minutes on each side. Garnish with lettuce, cheese, salsa, and other accoutrements of your liking.