Friday, February 18, 2011

"7 Nights of Tapas" Recipe: Spinach (Almost) Vegetarian Empanadas

I call this my antioxidant empanada bomb. 

It's got everything we hear is good for us, but is encased in a savoury buttery pastry pocket so you don't feel like such a goody-goody. 

We've got here some tomatoes, with all their lycopene, spinach and its lutein for your peepers, and garlic with a gamut of good-for-you stuff. 

There's also tuna with its omegas to keep your heart happy, almonds with some polyphenols, and eggs, which must've done something to earn that incredible edible egg bit.

It does take a bit more effort (actually, more like pre-planning really) than the other tapas presented here, but in my book they are sooo worth it. The dough I tried out worked perfectly. Crispy and flaky, with a slight tang - didn't get soggy a bit, even in the middle under all the filling.

Hopefully you'll find this recipe worth the wait (as yes, I know, the week stretched on and on while waiting for the 7th night of the 7 Nights of Tapas. "Bad, bad blogger!" says the voice in my head.)

To be honest, I normally dread making pastry dough, and I wanted to do it during the daylight hours to optimize photographing them, as I didn't think they'd look too pretty and be able to handle evening conditions.

With this pastry recipe though, I'm all for making them often. It came together really easily, and heated up in the oven later on perfectly. They could totally be a do-ahead party item (in smaller pockets). Partygoers might appreciate more decadent and meaty filling. Then I'd definitely go with a chorizo and roasted red peppers.  

7 Nights of Tapas:
1. Garlic Shrimp
2. Garlic Mushrooms
3. Spiced Roasted Almonds
4. Garbanzo Beans with Chorizo
5. Marinated Black Olives
6. Figgy Manchego and Jamon Toasts
7. Spinach (Almost-Vegetarian) Empanadas

Continue to Recipe...

Recipe: Empanada Dough
Serves 6 biggies or 12 tapa-sized pockets
Adapted from Epicurious

2 1/4 cups (280g) flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (113g) frozen butter
1 egg
1/2 cup ice water
1 Tb white vinegar

Like all pastry dough, you want to keep it cold, so keeping your sweaty palms off it as much as possible should be a priority. First, add the ice in a cup and top with water to make 1/2 cup. That way, as everything else is being prepped the ice will melt a bit and be perfectly cold and ready to use at the end.

Mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Take the butter outa the freezer and chop up into little squares. Try to do it quickly, hands-off, and toss into the flour. Taking 2 butter knives, your fingers, or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it's all a coarse mix and no butter pieces are bigger than a pea.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and add the ice water and vinegar. Pour slowly into the flour mix and use a fork to mix it as best you can. Use the fork to mix it for awhile (don't wait until you plop it onto the bread board and be tempted to use your hands too much). Finally, set the dough on a wooden well-floured board and knead just a couple times. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and stick in the fridge for an hour, minimum.

Spinach Tuna Empanadas
Serves 6 biggies or 12 tapa-sized pockets

2 Tb olive oil
1 onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
8 oz (250g) spinach
1 can tuna
1/2 cup almonds (or pine nuts if you'd prefer)
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
a pinch of saffron, in a tsp. of very hot water (to extract its flavours)

Preheat oven to 300°F / 155°C. In a large pan with high sides heat the oil over medium and add the onion. After a few minutes add the garlic and tomatoes. Let the juices evaporate a bit, then in a few different batches add the spinach and cook down for a few minutes. Add the tuna, almonds, eggs, and saffron. Reduce to med-low and get your pastry dough out. Break in half (more manageable) and roll out adding flour to prevent stickiness. Cut into circles, or oblong squares if no one will be judging them, and fill with the spinach mix with a slotted spoon to drain any liquid from the filling. Fold in half, close up, and seal well. Brush with an egg and sprinkle with a nice salt. Bake for 35 minutes until deep golden.

Let cool a bit, or your tongue will not like you much later!

Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy!
-- Jo


  1. mmm...this is just perfection! Love all the stuff inside one little pack..Delicious!!!

  2. Thanks Sandra! More things in 'one little pack' to come!


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