Empanada Party.

Every culture calls them something different…

Calzones, hand pies, pastelitos…

But no matter the name, what you’re after is dough hugging something savory.  And speaking of hugs, you’re going to want to give me a big one after you try these recipes.

I thought this would be a fun family party idea — creating a variety of fillings and having everyone roll their own desired concoction.  Well, when it comes to my family, things aren’t always organized, especially as they pertain to kitchen activities (which I’m usually driving).  So really this party consisted of me and my trusty sous chef (and occasional photographer!), Connor, in the kitchen making pie after pie for a house full of the people I love the most.

FIRST STEP:  the dough.

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I made two varieties of dough: one plain, one dairy-free.

Note: I actually recruited my beautiful mother to make the dough while I was mastering the fillings (she’s a dough MASTER).

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 c white flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (sub Earth Balance sticks for dairy free)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ground pepper
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream or yogurt, more if needed (sub plain coconut yogurt for dairy free)

How to do it:

  • Place flour, salt and butter in large bowl. Work with your fingertips or with a pastry blender ‘til the mixture resembles coarse meal. You want to keep some visible pieces of butter.
  • Beat together egg and 3 tbsp of cream. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Using your fingertips, mix them smoothly by making circular movements. Don’t knead the dough.
  • Keep mixing. The dough should get together quickly and if it doesn’t happen, add one more tbsp of cream.
  • Don’t worry about spots, visible pieces of butter and stripes of cream; they are a good sign. Press to form a ball, cover with plastic film and keep on the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  • IMPORTANT: You can keep this dough on freezer for about a month. Just place it on the fridge and let it defrost overnight before using.

SECOND STEP: the fillings.

You can stuff these with ANYTHING.  And truly, it doesn’t have to be savory.  Dough is dough, folks.  I chose three different fillings to satisfy all ranges of taste buds.

Roasted Squash + Goat Cheese   –   Roasted Broccoli + Chicken with Kale Pesto   –   Pizza

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Sprouted Kitchen originally got me giddy about empanadas with their butternut squash and goat cheese recipe.  That was, of course, top on my list.

Roasted Squash + Goat Cheese

What you’ll need:

  • 1 small butternut squash (cubed, roasted)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika or chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. sage (roughly chopped)
  • 5 oz. goat cheese
  • egg wash (1 egg and a splash of water, well whisked)

How to do it:

  • Saute the garlic and shallot in a bit of olive oil until just browned.  8-10 minutes.
  • To your squash, add a pinch of salt, the paprika or chipotle powder, nutmeg, the sauteed garlic and shallots and sage. Use the back of a fork and mash everything together well. Taste the mix and add as you wish, maybe a bit more salt, heat, etc.
  • Set aside.

Roasted Broccoli + Chicken with Kale Pesto

This pesto is my latest creation and one that I will never go without.  Toss it with any veggies, use it as a salad dressing, or throw it on some noodles.  It’s life-altering (and I swear, you won’t miss the cheese!).

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups roasted broccoli, chopped
  • 1-2 roasted chicken breasts, depending on how many you’re feeding, diced (I cheated and purchased a roasted lemon breast from the deli at Whole Foods)
  • 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to do it:

  • In a food processor, pulse kale, garlic, and pistachios.  Gradually add oil.  It should appear slightly moist, but rather dry looking.  add 1/2 cup of water to desired consistency (if you don’t care about the calories, you are welcome to use oil in place of the water). 
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well covered.
  • Set aside.

Pizza

Simple as it sounds!  You can fill it with any pizza toppings your heart desires.  Here’s what we chose…

What you’ll need:

  • Pizza sauce (I bought a jar from Whole foods and spiced it up to my own standards)
  • Black olives, chopped
  • Uncured pepperoni, diced
  • Mozzarella, shredded

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THIRD STEP:  the rest.

  • Preheat your oven to 425.
  • Grab a bunch of flour, a rolling pin, and something circular to use for cutting out your dough (I used a sauce pan lid — you’ll want it to be roughly 4″ in diameter). 
  • On a well-floured surface, roll your dough to about 1/8″ thickness.  Cut as many circles as you’re able.  Repeat until all dough is rolled and cut (I create a stack of my rounds, separated by little parchment or wax paper sheets).  I got about 20 cuts out of each dough round.
  • Once all of your rounds are cut, start filling those bad boys! 
  • Remember not to over stuff — just a dollop of your ingredients smack in the center.  Fold your dough over and use a fork to seal the edge.  Place on a lined baking sheet (if you have multiple baking sheets, now would be a good time to utilize — I was baking for about an hour with only two batches of dough). 
  • Bake each batch for 20 – 30 minutes (or until edges are slightly browned). 
  • Remove and serve warm!  (careful, they stay REALLY hot inside)

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Accepting hugs….now.

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