When I was younger and living in London, pre-theatre dinners or family get-togethers would often be a meal at an Argentinian steak restaurant, the Gaucho Grill. Of course, there’s no way I’d go there now (although I think it’s still one of my brother’s favourite places to eat…) , it must be the most un vegan-friendly place going- not just the menu but the décor too- the restaurants are all fitted out in black leather with cow hide furnishings everywhere! The one good thing I take from our visits though is the memory of empanadas.
If you’re unfamiliar with empanadas, they’re popular street food in South America and are essentially flaky pastry pockets filled with a whole variety of fillings, often cheese, meat, and beans. For my vegan version I decided on a smoky, spiced black bean and vegetable filling and served them with a chipotle sour cream for a nice creamy contrast.
I ate a few for dinner alongside a fresh garden salad, but, like my beetroot falafel, they’re also great party food. Pile up plates with the pastries, serve the sauce in a dish on the side and your guests can eat them with their hands.
This recipe is rather time-consuming but it does make a lot. They are very moreish though so you might end up eating more than you anticipate! You can also freeze them either before or after baking and reheat or cook in the oven from frozen.
Smoky Black Bean Empanadas with Chipotle Sour Cream:
For the Dough:
(Adapted from Viva Vegan! )
3C Flour ( I was using up odds and ends from the pantry so used a mixture of rye, spelt and cornmeal!)
1 1/2t Salt
1/4t Baking soda
7T Coconut oil, chilled
3/4C or more cold water
Non-dairy milk for brushing
Using a food processor pulse flour salt and baking soda together. Add solid coconut oil to the food processor and pulse again until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Remove mixture to a large bowl and stream in cold water while mixing with fingers. Add just enough water until dough comes together but is not sticky. Knead a few times, divide into 4 balls, flatten each into a thick disc, wrap tightly in cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.
For the Filling:
1T Olive oil
1 Onion, diced small
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1 Red pepper, diced small
1 Medium courgette, diced small
1 1/2C (1 Can) Black beans
1/2t Mild chili powder
1/2t Smoked paprika
1/4-1/2t Liquid smoke (If unavailable use a bit more smoked paprika)
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add garlic, red pepper and courgette and continue to cook until soft, approx 5-8 minutes. Add black beans, salt and spices and stir to coat everything well. Turn off heat and set aside until you’re ready to fill your empanadas.
Note: Feel free to mix up the filling ingredients. I think corn would be a nice addition, crumbled tempeh, or maybe plantain?
Chipotle Sour Cream:
1/2C Cashews, soaked
1/4C + 2T Water
1T Chipotle chili in adobe sauce (I puree the cans and store in the freezer and break off a piece when needed)
1 Clove of garlic
1t Apple cider vinegar
Squeeze of lime juice
Blend everything together (a short-cup/personal blender is ideal for small amounts like this). Taste for salt.
Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 190C/375F
Remove dough from fridge and roll out a disc of dough between two sheets of parchment paper into a circle about 1/8” thick. Using a bowl as a guide, cut out circles of approx 4-5” diameter (you can make them bigger if you prefer but that’s the size I went for). Cover and keep cool while you repeat with the next dough disc. Gather up all the remaining dough scraps, re-roll only one more time and cut out as many circles as possible.
Place approx 1 1/2T filling in the middle of each circle, dampen edge with a wet finger and fold one side over the filling. Roll, braid or crimp edge to seal (It took me a while to get the hang of this but I found simply rolling the edge in was the easiest). Place on a lined baking sheet and brush lightly with non-dairy milk. Repeat process until all empanadas are filled- I had a little filling left.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning baking sheet half-way through cooking process to ensure even browning. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve warm with chipotle sour cream.
Britain doesn’t have much of a tradition of street-food, although, in London especially, street food from other countries is getting really popular.
Where you live do you have street-food stalls available to you?