This past Saturday, I attended a dinner with some of my friends. But it wasn’t just any ol’ dinner. This was a dinner with a purpose: to learn more about seasonal, local, and organic foods and how to cook with them. You see, the group decided earlier this spring that we needed a “Supper Society”, and named the group “Dallas SOL” (SOL=sustainable, organic, and local). I was excited when the group extended an invite to me for this month! So, basically, we get together and have dinner, pot-luck style, and each person cooks a dish that uses as many organic and local ingredients as possible. After days and days of deliberation, I finally decided to bring empanadas. I wasn’t sure what I would fill them with, but recently I made empanadas using a recipe I saw on www.smittenkitchen.com. Deb, the owner of that blog, has some wonderful beef empanadas posted. I decided I would take a cue from her, and borrow the dough recipe, adapting it to use the organic whole wheat pastry flour I already had in the pantry. As for the filling? That’s where the “local” part came in.
I went to a small farmer’s market nearby (Georgia’s Farmers Market in Plano, for those readers that are local) and found these amazing turnip greens with little baby turnips still attached. They also had some frozen “fresh” Texas-grown pinto beans available, and some local tomatoes (okay, so they were from West Texas, but it was still Texas). Score! I then decided that with some cheese, these ingredients would be perfect for my empanada filling. So on my way home, I visited a local dairy farm (Lucky Layla farms in Plano) and picked up some lovely Tex-Mex Campesino cheese, which was a lot like Pepper Jack cheese.
The rest of the filling was created pretty much by winging it. All in all, these ended up quite tasty! They took quite a bit of time, however. If you choose not to do the dough by hand and use canned beans, you can save a lot of time. Goya makes frozen empanada disks, and they can be found in the frozen section of some ethnic groceries, maybe even a traditional grocery store. They aren’t quite as pleasant as the handmade dough, however, so if you have the time, I encourage you to make your own!
As for the dinner, everyone’s food was great! It was a fun event, and if I could speak for the others, I’d say we all went home knowing a bit more about organic, local, and sustainable foods, and are all feeling a bit more comfortable cooking with them!
4 ½ c whole wheat pastry flour
3 t salt
1 c (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 large eggs (I used local free-range eggs from Jacob’s Reward Farm – http://www.jacobsreward.blogspot.com/)
2/3 c ice water
2 T distilled white vinegar
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into two flat rectangles and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.
½ lb fresh pinto beans (or can use dried)
½ c organic vegetable broth
½ T Chipotle chili powder
½ T cumin powder
¼ t salt
1 T olive oil
½ bunch turnip greens, chopped
Salt to taste
1 ½ c shredded pepper jack cheese
2 t water
Place beans in a medium saucepan and pour enough water over to cover. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, simmer for 45 minutes or until soft. (if using dried beans, this may take more like 1 ½ hours) Drain beans and place back into saucepan.
Bring a small separate pot of water to boil. On the bottom part of the tomato, score an “X” through the tomato skin using a knife. Once the water is boiling, add tomato to water and boil for 2-3 minutes or until you see the skins start to peel away from the flesh. Remove tomato from water and set aside to cool. Discard water.
When tomato is cool enough to touch, peel the skin from the tomato. Chop in quarters and using your fingers, remove the seeds and the core. Crush the tomato using your hands into small bits and place into the beans. Add vegetable broth, chipotle powder, cumin, and salt, and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and let simmer 30 minutes or until flavors meld.
Bring olive oil to medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add turnip greens and sauté, stirring occasionally, until limp and tender. Add the beans and stir. Check seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Let mixture cool completely.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Remove chilled dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each rectangle of dough to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out 4 inch disks from dough, and roll out disks until they are about 6 inches in diameter. (I used a small bowl to cut out the disks.)
Place about 2 T of greens and beans mixture into middle of each disk. Add 1 T cheese, and fold over disk to form a semi-circle, then crimp edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining empanadas.
For the egg wash: Beat the egg with the water.
Lightly brush empanadas with some of the egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching positions halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to cool on a rack for about 5 minutes.
Makes 12 empanadas. Serve warm.