An Empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry, baked or fried in many countries of Latin America and the south of Europe. The stuffing can be anything, including a variety of meats, cheese, vegetables or fruits, to make Savory or Sweet Empanadas of your choice. I first tasted these in an Argentinian restaurant in Los Angeles. I loved how flaky the crust was, and as they are similar to an Indian snack that we make called Gujiyas or Ghughras, I could relate to these very well. Empanadas are very versatile, and would make a great addition to your meal as Starters or Snacks. The key is to get the pastry dough done right, and thanks to Jules Clancy of StoneSoup and the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook, we now have a winning recipe for making Empanadas. Feel free to adapt this vegetarian version with your choice of meats or fruit fillings.
3 cups (450g / 1lb) plain flour
1 1/2t sea salt
200mL (7 fl oz) water – a little over 3/4C
1t white vinegar
60g (2oz) butter, coarsley grated or finely chopped
2 medium eggplant, cut into 2cm chunks
4T olive oil
2 brown onions, peeled & finely diced
1 400g (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
120g (4oz) goats cheese
1 small handful coriander leaves, chopped
milk, for glazing
Making the Dough
Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a dam in the centre and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined and then turn onto a lightly floured bench top. Knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough looks like a nice smooth ball or until you get sick of it. Cover tightly with cling wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour but preferably 2.
Divide the dough in half and roll** out on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cut out 6 circles approx 14cm (5 1/2in) diameter. Using a saucer or small plate as a guide, cut out 6 circles. Repeat with the remaining dough. You are now ready for filling.
Making the Filling
Preheat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add oil and allow to warm up then add eggplant cubes and stir fry until golden and starting to soften. If they start to stick you may need to add a little more oil. Add onion and continue to cook until onion is soft and eggplant is melting. Stir through chickpeas and paprika and season to taste. Allow to cool. Stir though crumbled goats cheese and coriander.
Preheat oven to 250C (500F). Take your empanada circles and place 2-3T filling in the centre of each. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush a little milk around the edge of half the circle. Fold dough over to form a half moon and roll the edges together to form a good seal. Brush (or use your fingers like I do) milk over the surface of each and transfer to 2 trays lined with baking paper and generously sprinkled with flour.
Reduce oven to 230C (450F) and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.
I love this version, but I am not a huge fan of Eggplant. So I would try these with Paneer instead, or even green peas. I think these would work great with the goat cheese and onions. What do you think?