Hippie Hot Pockets: Greens Stuffed Paprika Empanadas
Empanadas – or hand pies – are one of the Freds’ favorite lunchtime treats. A coworker of mine who often saw me eating them, would refer to them as my hippie hot pockets, which my first instinct was to refute… until I realized he was dead on. These are hippie hot pockets! They have all the convenience and transportability of a hot pocket but they’re handmade without any icky preservatives, chemicals or other frightening things, plus no plastic or cardboard packaging. Brilliant! And if that makes this a “hippie” lunch, I’ll wear that label proudly!
Depending on the season, we make our empanadas with different fillings, but this recipe is a year round favorite, since hardy greens can be grown through the winter in New England and thus are frequent visitors to our kitchen all year long. This time we used a combination of our kale and chard – which has gotten huge (see above picture) to great result, but any combination of hardy greens will work – beet greens, spinach, tatsoi, bok choy, collards etc. Typically empanadas have a meat based filling, but we don’t miss that here, since the olives add a nice meatiness to the texture of the filling, while the paprika in the crust provides a slightly smoked flavor which balances with the greens incredibly well. The result is an extremely satisfying vegetarian lunch.
Greens Stuffed Paprika Empanadas (adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
(Makes six empanadas)
To get the flakiest crust possible, we recommend freezing your already cold butter for a half hour before cutting into the dough.
10 cups mixed cooking greens (chard, kale, collards, asian collards, beet greens), roughly chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 small onion or 3 medium shallots, finely diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp red pepper flakes – halve if you don’t want these to be spicy
1/3 cup pitted olives, chopped
1/2 cup provolone cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose will work if you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tbs sugar
12 tablespoons cold butter
1/3-1/2 cup ice water
Dough: Mix the flour, salt, sugar and paprika together. Cut in the butter either by hand or using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cutting in until the butter is in pea sized chunks. Add ice water by the tablespoon while mixing until you can form the dough into a ball. Be careful not to add too much water as this will make your dough hard to work with and less flakey later. Once you’ve formed your dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to form your empanadas. Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated several days before using.
Filling/Empanadas Compilation: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position.
Wash your chopped greens and allow to remain wet. Add your oil to a large pan or wide skillet, over medium high heat. Add your onion/shallot, garlic, bay leaves, parsley and pepper flakes and cook until the onion begins to brown. Add the wet greens and cook until they’re fully wilted and tender, tossing occasionally with tongs to cook them evenly. When the greens are tender, transfer the mixture to a bowl and add your cheese, olives and half the beaten egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove your dough from the refrigerator, and as soon as it’s workable roll it out on a floured surface into a roundish shape about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out circles using a bowl with about an 8 inch diameter as your guide. Place the dough circles onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, fill one side with several tablespoons of your greens mixture, then fold your dough over the filling and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Coat with remaining beaten egg, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until empanadas are nicely browned and shiny.
Can be served warm or room temperature. We recommend serving with fresh hummus.