I can’t remember ever eating an empanada as a kid, but I did eat my fair share of calzone, pot pies, and the frozen food train wreck also known as Hot Pockets. Come on, folks. Who doesn’t like a thin bread-y shell filled with savory goodness (or, in the case of my Hot Pocket addiction,”bad for you” tastiness)?
I would stand before the glowing microwave waiting for the beepbeepbeep to deliver my fast food treat. It was this grade school kid’s contribution to science to get the hot pocket fully cooked in the middle without turning the rounded ends into tooth-shattering rocks. (I can’t count how many minor mouth burns I received from the Hot Pocket’s molten filling. No doubt its ingredients shaved a few years off my life.)
Today is my mother’s birthday, and even though we live too far apart for me to make her a cake, I dedicate this post and these homemade empanadas to her. Thanks, Mom, for permitting me my Hot Pocket obsession as a child. I’m a healthier eater now because you didn’t force me to shovel down salad as a kid. You know how stubborn I was!
Recently Cameron made a pile of savory pumpkin empanadas. They’re definitely a healthy alternative to my childhood obsession. If they’d keep, I’d send her a box to commemorate her patience for all those years I whined about stocking up on Hot Pockets.
Perfectly proportioned chewiness to melt-in-your-mouth-not-melt-your-mouth filling, these empanadas are a great snack, appetizer, or side for dinner. We enjoyed ours with a mint cilantro chutney (recipe below) and a Moroccan tagine, which I’ll feature in an upcoming post. Best of all: it’s vegan and delicious.
Pumpkin Curry Empanadas
Makes 20 Empanadas
– 2 TBS vegetable oil, divided
– 12 oz cubed peeled baking pumpkin or butternut or kabocha squash (I made a new batch with a pumpkin from the garden, and it tastes great.)
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 1/2 tsp ground ginger
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1/4 cup currants, softened 10 minutes in hot water to cover
– 3 sheets frozen store-bought pie dough (or make a double batch of this recipe’s pastry dough, which I highly recommend for its magical butter content.)
– 1 large egg, slightly beaten
– Cilantro Mint Dipping Sauce (see recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rub a rimmed baking sheet with 1 TBS oil. Spread pumpkin on sheet and roast, uncovered, turning once, till tender when pierced, 30 minutes or until soft when pressed.
2. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 TBS oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
3. Transfer onion to a medium mixing bowl. Drain currants, and stir into bowl. Add warm pumpkin and mix well, mashing with back of a spoon to create a slightly chunky mixture.
4. Working with one pie-dough disk at a time, roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/8-in.-thick round. Using a 4-in. ring cutter, cut out 20 circles, rerolling scraps.
5. Mix 1 TBS water into egg and brush onto dough rounds. Spoon 1 TBS pumpkin mixture into center of each round, fold over, and seal edges with tines of a fork.
6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Arrange empanadas on sheets, spaced slightly apart.
7. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with mint cilantro sauce.
Make ahead: Follow recipe through step 5. Freeze in an airtight container. Then bake from frozen, 25 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
– 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
– 1 cup chopped mint
– 1 TBS fresh ginger, chopped
– 1 large garlic clove
– 2 TBS desiccated coconut
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 TBS vegetable or grapeseed oil
– 1/4 cup lime juice
– Salt to taste
1. Toss all ingredients in the food processor and pulse into pureed. Add more lime juice if needed to make a smooth puree, and increase the sugar, oil, and salt if you do, tasting until it’s to your liking.