Black Bean Empanadas

Earlier this year, I traveled to Argentina with my family where we enjoyed delicious, handmade empanadas with a variety of fresh fillings. This easy dough, which I adapted from Mark Bittman’s basic recipe, can be filled with just about any kind of savory filling you’d like. I hope this vegetarian hand pie is a huge hit at your house, too – both for dinner and in the lunchbox.

  • For the dough:
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/2 cup fine ground cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • For the filling:
  • 1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup low fat milk

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a full-sized food processor, combine the flours, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Run the machine for a few seconds to combine. With the machine running, slowly add the canola oil to the flour mixture. Continue to let the machine run while adding the water. The dough should come together in a rough ball around the blade of the machine. Stop the motor and scrape together the dough into a ball. Knead it by hand until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 uniform balls, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for about 20 minutes while making the filling.
  • In a small food processor, combine the beans, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until the garlic is fully incorporated. The mixture should be creamy but not completely smooth.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a flat circle. Place a tablespoon of the bean filling in the top half of the circle then top it with a large pinch of cheese. Dip a clean finger in water and run it along the edge of the circle. Fold one half over so it meets the other with edges lined up. Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Try to make sure there aren’t any gaping holes anywhere in the dough, or the filling will ooze as it gets hot. Place the empanadas on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the top of each empanada lightly with milk.
  • Bake empanadas on the middle rack of the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. The filling will be extremely hot, so be careful (especially with kids!). Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftover empanadas tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I have other ideas for fillings, too! Next time I’d like to try cubes of cooked chicken, brown rice and cheese. I would also love to try one with mushrooms. For the meat lovers, consider using a bit of cooked sausage, strips of roasted bell pepper or caramelized onions.
  • 2. A lot of things about this recipe made me nervous at first glance. Of course, flour and the prospect of making any sort of dough always give me a mild panic attack. Using multiple food processors and all their 372 parts is also fear-inducing. The good news is that the filling recipe fits perfectly into the mini food processor, negating the need to clean out the large food processor in between. If you don’t have a small chopper or food processor, you can also make this filling in a high powered blender.
  • 3. If you have the time and the patience, you can involve kids in rolling out the dough, choosing fillings and sealing the edges. My 5-year-old became particularly skilled at sealing the edges with a fork! He was very proud of his work and of course, gobbled up the finished product happily.

Preparation time: 1 hour(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

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