Anyone wondering how my wanderlust developed simply needs to understand I spent a chapter of my childhood in Brazil, and trotting about South and Central America and the Caribbean. By the time I was 14, my brother John and I had visited over a dozen countries (more if you count plane lay-overs). Not exactly a normal All-American childhood. (Let me tell you… It was a rough re-entry to suburban Detroit when we returned. I might as well have been from a different planet.)
We spanned the continent from the Iguazu Falls at the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay… To the Mayan ruins in Mexico… And of course, we ate our way across the continent. There were a lot of weird things on menus along the way, so we’d hunt for familiar options. One childhood fave that you can find all over the Americas are empanadas… little pockets of pastries filled with meat, cheese, veggies, or some combination of the three. Oh how I adore empanadas…
John has elevated empanadas to an art form at his restaurant. He creates new varieties virtually every night. I’m talking crazy creative: chili cheese dog; pork Bolognese; bean burrito; blue cheese and leek; eggplant parmesan; chicken Xim Xim; picadillo; mushroom stroganoff; corn, chanterelles and sweet pepper and romesco with goat cheese, peppers, and almonds.
My daughter’s favorite is the lamb ragu and pecorino. In case you’re in Chicago tonight and want to stop by, the empanadas of the day are: sloppy joe – and kale, chiles, garlic and provolone.
Quite honestly, as an insanely busy mother-of-three, I had never, ever tried to recreate empanadas at home. I thought to myself: “Really, who has the time to make the empanada pastry?” Surely someone, just not me. Then I read that it was possible to buy the stuff… and I discovered La Saltena empanada wrappers at my local latin market (Plaza Latina, Falls Church Virginia)
This is going to open up a whole world of snacking possibilities at House Morell.
I thought I’d start simple… and actually go meatless this Lenten Friday, as a girl can only use the “a-meat-loving-Argentine-Pope-wouldn’t-judge” excuse a couple of times. I tweaked a Food Network recipe to include the a combo of mozzarella, goat cheese and queso fresco… added sautéed onions, red peppers and corn… and wow…
Oh dear La Saltena Empanada wrappers, this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship…
If you’d like to pair these empanadas with a few other choices, you might want to try my Empanadas with White Beans, Pancetta and Queso Fresco or my Bacon Cheeseburger Empanadas or my Cuban Beef Picadillo Empanadas or perhaps my Merquez Sausage, Haloumi Cheese and Potato Empanadas. They’re all awesome.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 package La Saltena brand empanada wrappers, (hojaldradas)
- Directions Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add corn and red peppers; saute for 5 minutes or until the corn is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer mixture to medium bowl, stir in cheeses and sour cream. Let cool.
- Place a tablespoon of the filling onto the center of each empanada disk. Fold the dough over to make a half-moon, and seal with a decorative pattern.
- Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Serve warm, or at room temperature.