Vegan empanadas are time-consuming but worth the wait

Vegan empanadas

Turnip green and cannellini empanadas with salsa

I spent most of the day yesterday out at festivals and other events, so I decided to stay home last night. I occasionally look forward to a quiet evening at home.

I curled up with a book and a cup of tea, and read a few chapters, until my dog Molly  needed to go outside. It was then I heard my kitchen calling.

I wandered into the kitchen, rummaging around in the refrigerator, trying to figure out what to make or what I was craving. I finally decided on empanadas. I wasn’t really hungry, and I had a lot of time on my hands, so why not?

I tend to do things backwards, often because I start cooking before I really know what I’m about to make, and then I complete the process in layers. I had started roasting the leeks and garlic before I steamed the turnip greens, and I made the dough last instead of first.

For the recipe, I will put everything in the right order! Just make sure you have a couple of hours of free time before you get started.

 Turnip green and cannellini empanada

Whole wheat crust (adapted from Vegan Adventures)

3 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablesoons potato starch

1 teaspoon table salt

1 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening (Spectrum or Earth Balance are good brands)

1 cup ice water

1 teaspoon lime juice

Filling (adapted from

3/4 cup dried cannellini beans (soaked overnight)

1 bunch turnip greens, chopped small

1 teaspoon lime juice

1-2 leeks, sliced

6-10 cloves garlic, whole in skin

1/2 pound button mushrooms

1/2 large onion

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

½ cup vegetable broth

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Almond milk for brushing onto pastry


Rinse and place beans in a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt (more or less as desired). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let beans cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until cooked through and still firm, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Add more water if necessary, a little at a time. When beans are done, remove from heat and let cool.

While beans are cooking, prepare the dough for the crust. Mix together flour, potato starch and salt, then cut in shortening with a fork. Add ice water mixed with lime juice. Dough should be flaky but holds together when a ball is formed. If dough does not hold together, add a teaspoon or two of water until desired consistency is reached. Form into four balls, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place leeks in baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place in oven for five minutes. Add garlic in skins to baking dish and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. Leeks should be softened and starting to brown and garlic is soft and creamy. Remove garlic from skins and mash with a fork, stirring into leeks.

While leeks and garlic are roasting, saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and saute a few minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Steam turnip greens with water, salt and pepper, for about 10 minutes. Greens should be softened but not mushy. Remove from pan and stir in a little lime juice.

Stir together all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl, adjusting seasoning to your taste. Set aside.

Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough balls from refrigerator. Roll out on a floured surface, making the pastry as this as possible while still able to pick it up without tearing. Cut 4 inch circles and place on baking sheets an inch or two apart. You should be able to place 8 to 10 empanadas on each. Place 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each pastry circle. Fold in half, crimping edges together. Brush tops with almond milk. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serve as is or with your favorite salsa.


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