Friday, January 30, 2015

Smoky Empanada with Sweet Potato and Black Bean

vegan empanadas sweet potato filling

vegan empanadas

see marbleization in dough? that's what you want for tenderness

Smoky Empanada with Sweet Potato and Black Bean
A week ago I attended the Seed market in NYC filled with all things vegan and lots of food. I tasted just about everything there and am including my long list, which I might add is very unusual and not as healthy I typically eat, but I really wanted to taste all the variety around me and support the vegan community. So here it is…
I had a vegan sausage with red cabbage and pineapple from Yeah Dawg, a big mac with classic sauce from Marty’s Vegan Fast Food, a potato samosa, another burger variation from Marty, a bit of coconut donut from Cinnamon Snail, chocolate with popcorn, a taste of coconut jerky in 3 flavors, which I purchased, a bottle of nut milk and a yummy spinach empanada from Freakin’Vegan. Let me note I shared some of this with another person.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t feeling all that great by the end of the day, so for dinner it was back to healthy goodness of salad with steamed veggies and lentils – so perfect.

However, it’s a new day and the empanada I  had last week inspired me to revisit an old recipe of mine and try a new filling.  I was about due since the last time I made empanadas was nearly two years ago. I stuck with a pastry dough I love and one that’s versatile being great for both savory and sweet fillings.  I’ll note, it’s important not to add anything too wet or saucy inside as it might tear the dough while folding it and it could leak and get messy. Save the sauciness for dipping as I’ve done here. I’m not sure what the secret is to a good empanada but I figure if it holds well, is tender and keeps the filling inside and of course taste good then that’s what matters. The pastry dough here is adapted from my pie crus, t however this recipe uses a little more milk to allow for folding and holding together.

Notes for Successful Baking
1. Always Pre heat the oven before baking
2. Have all of your ingredients out and ready close by including measuring cups, spoons, whisk etc. Start from the top of the ingredients list and work your way down, or very good chance something will be missed.
3. Dry ingredients measured with dry cup and wet ingredients with wet measuring cup.
4. Dip whisk in the flour to aerate it then add measuring cup to measure, wiping off excess, do not spoon flour into measuring cup this is inaccurate for my recipes.
5. Prevent opening oven too early during baking process

Note about Flour: I’ve tried all the combinations listed below and found using spelt is a bit more delicate to work with but totally do-able.

Ingredients for Empanada Dough
1 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ + 2 tbsp cup non dairy milk – room temperature – I used ½ cup  - will depend on flour used

Method for Empanada Dough
1. get the oil cold by pouring it in stainless steel bowl and place in freezer for one hour or longer
2. I a large bowl sift the all purpose flour, wheat flour, and sea salt
3. Add the cold oil slowly stirring and scooping from underneath in a circular motion, a grainy and lumpy/chunky texture will develop -  do not break these up, they allow for flakiness in the crust. I use a wide rubber scraper since it really gets under the dough and lifts everything. Now add the milk and gently combine still stirring in circular motion scooping from underneath. It will be a bit wet sticky – don’t add more flour. When combined roll into a ball and let sit in lightly oiled bowl covered in fridge 45 minutes. Do not knead the dough! We don’t want to melt the oil with hot hands.

click here for image of how dough should look when mixed with oil

While the dough is in fridge start your filling

Ingredients for Smoky Filling - 
Fills  8 empanadas
1 ½ sweet potato peeled and sliced into rounds
½ large onion chopped
olive or coconut oil for sauteing
½ red pepper chopped
1 large garlic clove minced
½ chipotle pepper in adobe sauce or few shakes red pepper flakes
1 cup black beans rinsed
4 tbsp fire roasted tomato sauce or 1 tbsp tomato paste with ¼ cup water
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt to taste

Method For Filling
Fills 8 empanada
1. Steam the sweet potato until fork tender about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mash them.
2. Add oil to medium pot on medium heat, add the onion, red pepper and pinches of sea salt and cook for 4 minutes, add the garlic and chipotle pepper and toss for 1 minute. Add the black beans, paprika, cumin, fire roasted tomato and cook for 3 minutes, add the mashed sweet potato and combine – cooking for another minute. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a large bowl.

Pre oven to 400 rack in the middle. Line baking sheet with parchment paper

Dough Continued
1. Pull dough out of fridge you’ll notice it’s not sticky anymore. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls.  If you have parchment paper lay the dough on the parchment and add another sheet on top or use plastic wrap so you can see it, using a roller, roll out the dough to a 6 inch circle, you’ll notice a marbleized look from the oil, this is good – (flip the paper over and loosen it from dough then flip over again, now it’s easy to fold over the filling, repeat this step with all 8. 
2. Add the filling to the lower end of the circle away from you allowing space at the right, top and left edges, fold over and crimp working from one end to the other. Place each empanada on the lined baking sheet and repeat with the remainder 7.
3. Combine 2 tbsp non-dairy milk with 2 tsp maple syrup, mix well and lightly brush tops of empanada – no need to use all the liquid. Bake for 29-30 minutes. Should be slightly golden.

Serve with your favorite hot sauce or:

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