Empanadas are little Spanish or Portuguese pasties depending who you speak to. Around here they are most commonly filled with a tuna, tomato and onion mixture. Legend has it that they were bought to Medieval Spain by the Moorish invaders. This is my way of interpreting that and bringing back some of the Moorish flavours.
Here the pastry is traditionally made with Manteca which is a kind of pig fat or lard. Not really my cup of tea but tasty I’m sure.
I used the same spelt flour olive oil pastry that I used for this Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche and this Italian Courgette & Basil Crostata . It’s so good and much healthier and easier than using butter or lard. The Washer Up has, as you may have read in a previous post, become intolerant to wheat quite recently so will not be taking sandwiches to work as often as he did.
Thankfully he has no reaction to spelt flour so these empanadas are the perfect replacement. You can change the filling to whatever you have or whatever is in season to keep it interesting but this is a lovely mix of sweet, spicy Moroccan flavours with some nice texture from the toasted pine nuts and juicy moscatel raisins. I cook them the day before and they are just as good at room temperature as they are hot. This makes them ideal for packed lunches or picnics.
Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas Recipe
For the pastry:
Makes about 8 empanadas depending on the size. Vegan, Wheat-free
250 g wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- up to 120 ml cold water
Mix together the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and use a fork to mash it into the flour so it is evenly distributed.
Slowly add the water bit by bit (you may not need it all) and use the fork to combine it with the flour. When it starts coming together use your hands to bring it together into a ball and knead gently for a few seconds only. If it is too dry add a bit of water, too wet add a bit of flour. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge while you make the filling.
For the filling:
Makes a lot of filling. Vegetarian
- 1 small-medium squash/pumpkin unpeeled, cut into chunky wedges
- olive oil, salt, pepper, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground coriander
Preheat the oven to 200C and put the squash wedges on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle over the ground spices. Toss the wedges in the oil & spices and roast until the squash is very tender. This could take 25 -50 minutes depending on the size of you squash pieces.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- the zest of half an orange and the juice
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp harissa paste or chilli flakes (optional)
- a handful of Moscatel raisins or sultanas
- a handful of pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan until browned)
- a handful of chopped coriander
- about 100 g Greek feta
- olive oil
Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in some olive oil over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until softened. add in the turmeric, orange zest, orange juice, raisins and pine nuts and cook the liquid out.
Scrape the squash flesh out of its skin (or peel off the skin) and mash it into the pan with the onions etc. Cook this together until there is very little moisture, add the chopped fresh coriander.
Leave to cool then stir through the crumbled feta until evenly combined. Taste and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Roll the pastry out with a floured rolling-pin on a floured surface, turning it quarters turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a thickness of about 2-3 mm. I used a saucer to cut out most circles but I also used cutters to make smaller ones too. You will need to reroll the off cuts a few times to get the most circles out of the pastry.
Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray. Take a good heaped tablespoon of the mixture and put it in the bottom half of one of the pastry circles leaving about a centimetre border clear. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling, and seal the edges together with your fingers. Then use a fork to seal it again. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the rest of the circles. You may have some filling leftover, I did.
Make a few little slits in the top of each then brush the tops all over with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes depending on the size.
Serve warm or at room temperature. The original Cornish pasties were apparently taken hot out of the oven and put into coat pockets to keep the hands warm on the chilly walk to work or school. Sounds like some people could probably do with that at the moment in some areas. It’s not that bad here and he has heating in the car….
Have a lovely weekend!