Friday, February 24, 2012

Vegetarian Empanadas Mendocinas

Empanadas... they bring great memories, school events, birthday parties, holidays, they were always present. Empanadas are part of many countries' typical dishes but the empanadas from Mendoza ( the Argentinian city I grew up in) are the ones that bring a nostalgic tear to my eye. As many of you may know, Argentina is a large meat-consuming country. I adapted this recipe to my vegetarian diet by replacing the meat with lentils. The rule of thumb to make empanadas mendocinas is to use a 2:1 onion-meat ratio, that is probably the difference with the empanadas from other places. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoy making and eating it!

Makes 24 empanadas

Ingredients

For the Lentil Picadillo:

1 cup lentils, soak for at least 2 hours with 1 cup of water (measure before soaking)
3 cups water with 1 teaspoon of salt
 4 cups onions, sliced (about 2 medium onions) 
4 tablespoons butter or margarine 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1teaspoon cumin powder
 1 tablespoon dried oregano
 1 tablespoon paprika
 1 teaspoon salt
2 hard boiled eggs, very coarsely chopped
24 green olives

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup water
2 tbsp canola oil
water, to seal sides
1 egg beaten to glaze the dough, optional


Directions 

For the Lentil Picadillo:
Pour the 3 cups of water with salt into a medium saucepan and add the lentils. 
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until tender.
 Drain. 
 In a large pot, melt the butter or margarine and add the onions. 
Cook until transparent.
 Incorporate the lentils,  red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, paprika and salt.
 Mix well. 
Continue cooking for 5 minutes. 
Remove from the heat and set aside. 

For the Dough:

Mix the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 
Mix water and oil.
Add the water to the flour mixture.
Knead until elastic.
Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. 
Divide it into 24 pieces and shape each one into a ball.
With a rolling pin, shape into very thin circles (2-3 mm depth)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Assembly:

Lay one circle on a flat surface, place a heaping tablespoon of picadillo in the center, top with a piece of egg and one olive.
With your finger moisten the edges with water.
Fold in half and seal.
Press with a fork or make a rope pattern with your finger. 
Place them on a floured baking sheet.
Brush them with the egg glaze if desired (I usually don't)
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.
Enjoy!!



Nutritional Information (per empanada)

Total Fat 4.2 g
Cholesterol 22.8 mg
Potassium 107.7 mg
Total Carbs: 19.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1 g
Sugars: 0.8 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Calories: 123



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