FOODGASM: EMPANADAS (UN CHIN HEALTHY)
There won’t ever be anything as good as fried empanadas. That crispy outside that makes you salivate right before you bite into the cheesy/meaty inside….it is TO DIE for! Howeverrrrr, considering that we are trying to stay healthy, I decided to go in search of a healthier alternative.
Empanadas, or pastelitos— as my Dominican family would call them, were the go-to for breakfast, snack, parties, lunch and drunken cures. You could make them with any filling that you like, but the basic go to has always been ground meat and cheese (or either or separately). For this recipe I considered putting raisins just for a laugh, but I opt’d in for Spanish olives instead! The reason I like this recipe is because: 1) It’s extremely easy since Goya sells the pre-made pastry for baking in the freezer aisle and 2) it is packed with flavor!
What you will need:
1 16oz. Ground Turkey - I used organic ground turkey.
Goya frozen puff pastry dough: blue label that says “Tapas para Empanadas - Hojaldradas para Horno”. (see image below) *Be sure to let this defrost, but don’t let it get too warm because it will give you issues closing.*
⅓ red onion, finely chopped.
½ green pepper, finely chopped.
¼ cup of Spanish olives, chopped.
2 Tablespoons olive oil - I used garlic olive oil from Trader Joe’s.
2 teaspoons tomato paste.
1 Tablespoon minced garlic.
Seasonings: 1 teaspoon each - garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper, turmeric.
Sprinkle of pink himalayan sea salt - be cautious adding additional salt because of the tomato paste, olives and cheese containing salt and sodium.
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese.
Optional: ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon Adobo.
1 egg scrambled - used to seal the empanada and to brush on before putting in the oven.
A fork to help close the edges.
Baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Yield: Minimum 2 packets of 12 empanada pastry puffs.
Pre-heat the oven to 375℉ while prepping your ground turkey stuffing for the empanadas.
Be sure to prep all of your ingredients by chopping and cutting them up. This will make the cooking process easier.
Once everything is prepped, get your pan heated on medium heat with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
Add in the finely chopped onions and let them cook for 3-4 minutes until semi translucent.
Next you will add the tablespoon of minced garlic and stir it in so the pan can start building flavor.
Once the onions are cooked down for an additional 2 minutes, you will add your green peppers, stir and let them cook for 3 minutes.
Take the ground turkey and place it in the pan, sprinkle the seasonings on top and fold in the onion, garlic and peppers + the last tablespoon of olive oil. You’ll want to make sure that the ground turkey does not clump and you use the cooking utensil to separate it.
Get the turkey cooked through then add the olives and the tomato paste. You’ll want to mix it all in and make sure that the tomato paste is stirred in.
Once you have mixed your base together and the turkey has been cooked through, you’ll turn off the heat and fold in the cup of shredded cheese. This will give you the creaminess in the empanada.
You’ll take your egg wash (scrambled egg) and line the edges of the empanada with it using a brush or getting crafty by using your finger.
Take a tablespoon of the ground turkey mixture and place it in the center of the empanada. Be sure that you do not over stuff the center because it will ooze out when baking.
Fold over the empanada making sure you’re creating a half moon and close with a fork. You can puncture the empanada to help release the air when baking.
Brush on the egg wash on the outside of the empanada. [Here are some steps to follow excluding the sea salt at the end].
You will place the empanadas on a baking tray lined with parchment paper with 3/4th of an inch to an inch of distance in between each.
Bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
When you take them out of the oven, give them some time to cool before biting into them out of excitement and burning your mouth!
The steps might seem like there’s so much work that needs to be done; BUT they’re just a lot of baby steps to make sure you’re working in the proper flavors— your guests and tummy will thank you. Once you get to eat one, you’ll see how the flakiness of the pastry puff holds up with the seasonings of your filling!
Be sure to have patience when cooking and to have fun in the process. Put on your Chef hat and turn the music up... don't be scared to dance in the kitchen! Cooking is meant to be enjoyable and having these empanadas will let you know that you can enjoy healthier alternatives while celebrating your Latino/Hispanic side (or just celebrating a culture that makes you happy).
PS- see photos below of my end result!
Ahlexandria is a TGM contributor out of Los Angeles.
follow her @ahlexandria