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Ella pone la mesa

I believe in eating with the people and the seasons. And eating with the people just as much as the seasons. – Candace Bättig

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Lemon ginger couscous with broccoli, chickpeas and kidney beans

When I cook for myself in Argentina I eat a lot of bulgar, couscous, bread, chickpeas, lentils and a BUNCH of vegetables. Argentina is a place for meat though when it comes to cooking here. A favorite of theirs is empanadas filled with “carne” roughly translated to meat and usually meaning beef. So in an effort to fit in with the people and not to subject them to my weird ‘grass’7, as my brother would call it, food I attempted to learn the art of making empanadas. Now they can easily be made pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan using my dough recipe and substituting the filling of your dietary choice (You can also substitute chickpea, rice or other non gluten flours. You’ll have to work the water ratio a little bit however and be careful when forming the empanadas because the lack of gluten will lend the dough to falling apart). Butter is traditionally used in the dough which will give it a wonderfully flaky deliciousness. If you would like to substitute butter I recommend using half a cup cut it into the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients and add more water as needed.

Empanadas a la Candace

Filling

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp random meat spice from the grocery store (cumin, oregano, white pepper)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ cup of wine
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 olives diced

Dice onion and garlic. Saute in frying pan with oil. Add beef, wine, salt and spices. Use a spatula to cut up the beef a little and leave to simmer. By cooking the beef in a liquid you will encourage the collagen to break apart and make it an extra velvety filling. Stir occasionally to ensure everything cooks. Add tomato paste and stir. Once it looks thickened remove it from heat and let it cool. The filling is easier to work with when it’s cold. I made mine a day in advance and stored it in the fridge.

Dough

  • 100g oil
  • 1 egg or 1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water (let sit for 5-10min before blending)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used wine vinegar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g flour (I split it half whole wheat and half white)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together in separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix the dough so that it just comes together (don’t over work). Add more flour as needed.

Roll out the dough and cut large circles using a bowl or dough cutter. Or if you are like me and without a rolling pin break off small bun size bits of dough and work it like they make pizza in the movies. I oil my hands or use flour to keep the dough from sticking to me. Next use your judgment to decide how much filling will fit. If your circles are homemade and not perfect use the longest sides to bring up and squish together. They don’t have to look perfect (unless you want them to, in that case they do) they will be delicious either way.

Cook at 35042F (or with the dial three quarters to the lowest heat in an Argentinian oven) for approximately 30 minutes. I like to rotate mine on the three sides by flipping them every ten minutes.

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Taste testing the first batch of empanadas

I hope you enjoy my version of a little taste of Argentina. As they say here, Bon Provecho!

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