Day 24: Empanadas for the Pope

Vegan Mofo Theme:What [insert well known person] would eat if they were vegan.

Plated

If you reside in the United States, you’ve probably heard the Pope is in town! We thought the Pope would be pretty down with the whole idea of compassionate eating and we wanted to show him that it would be super easy to remake some popular favorites from his heritage in a vegan fashion. I can’t quite vouch for the true authenticity, but our meal tonight was certainly inspired by traditional Argentinian favorites!

You never eat alone
If you live in a Catholic household…you’ll never eat alone. Also, we aren’t sure if the Pope likes Yerba Mate, but it’s an Argentinian speciality that we were inspired to try for the first time today. Yum!

This recipe is truly forgiving; substitute your heart away. Don’t have sweet potato on hand? Use regular potato. No green onions?  Red, white, yellow, or more garlic (fakemeat&truelove, we’re talking to you and your love of elephant garlic here) will do fine. If cilantro tastes like soap to you (I’m so sorry), use parsley-it’s truer to traditional chimichurri anyways. Go wild with your spices people and have fun in the kitchen!

Without further ado-I give you our veggie empanadas with chimichurri sauce!

Ingredients-Empanada Filling

  • 1 cup sweet potato, diced (we used about half of a large potato)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (we used up some leftover frozen corn and two fresh ears)
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large handful spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients-Empanada Dough (Adapted from The Kitchn)

  • 1 flax seed “egg” (2 Tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tablespoons water)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (additional all-purpose is fine to sub, but the whole wheat lends a great nuttiness to the crust)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted cold butter spread, cubed (we used earth balance)
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more as needed
  • Melted butter spread for brushing

Ingredients-Chimichurri 

  • 1 bunch cilantro (stems and all)
  • 3-4 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vinegar (we used regular white because that’s what we had on hand; red or white wine vinegar would be pleasant too-but you might need to bump up the amount since they are a little milder in flavor)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • FillingMake the filling: Spread chopped sweet potato on a roasting pan, spray/drizzle with a little oil, and place in a 400 degree oven to roast for 15-20 minutes, while you prep your other filling ingredients.
  • Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat, add garlic, and sauté until the garlic becomes a little fragrant. Add in corn kernels and green onions and cook until corn becomes tender (3-5 mins). Add in spinach and spices and cook for an additional 30 seconds or so until the spinach has wilted slightly. Turn off the heat. Remove your roasted sweet potato from the oven and mix into the rest of the veggies. Set aside the filling until you are ready to make your empanadas.
  • Make the dough: Mix up your flax seed egg in a small bowl and set aside while you gather your dry ingredients. In a large bowl measure out your flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter, your hands, two knives, or an electric mixer, cut cold butter into the flour until it resembles the consistency of small peas. Add the flax seed egg and the cold water and mix until the dough holds together. Adjust with more water, about a Tablespoon at a time, if the dough is not coming together or more flour, if the dough is too sticky.
  • Filling+DoughAssemble your empanadas: Grabbing a small handful of dough each time, roll it into a ball with floured hands and roll out into a circle using a rolling pin, aiming for a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. Spoon filling into the center of the dough. Wet the inner edge of one half of the dough, fold the other half over and press edges firmly together to shape your empanada. Place empanadas on a lightly greased, or parchment paper lined, baking sheet. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, gently brush/rub empanadas with melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is slightly brown around the edges.
  • Make Chimichurri: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined, with small flecks of cilantro remaining (about 10 -12 pulses).

This dish makes approximately eight medium empanadas with a little extra filling left (enough to feed about 4 humans, or 3 if they’re hungry). These will also reheat wonderfully in a toaster oven/regular oven if you have leftovers.

Enjoy (compassionately!) by dipping your empanadas in the chimichurri and serving with some chilled Yerba Mate (another Argentinian speciality).

-E & E

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