OK y'all so I looked and looked at online photos of empanadas and, well, no matter how I shot the ones that we just made, they never matched up. Food photographer I am not, but constant experimenter in the kitchen? Damn right I am.
So last night I overcame my trepidation and made homemade empanadas for the first time, inspired by Becky Selengut's cookbook, Shroom, which we have loved learning about the best types of mushrooms for certain dishes...and more importantly, using ones we've seen but rarely had the audacity to experiment with in the kitchen. From lobster mushroom to truffles to matsutake to oyster to beech and more, we have been pleasantly surprised by a majority of the recipes (earlier in the year trying out her king trumpet 'scallop' recipe which I sh*t you not tastes exactly like the real - and more expensive - thing, y'all). Several of her recipes get dare I say a bit bougie and complex for those who don't have access to the multitude of ingredients often required, but there have been enough for me to copy into my Master Binder of Favorites that I still highly recommend this book for mushroom lovers.
So...Empanadas! Did you know that, unlike the "mystery" that some websites claim about their roots, that they actually originated in the Middle East? Not Argentina, not Spain, not the Caribbean - but rather from Arabic meat pies (Sfeehas) brought up by the Moors into Spain and surrounding areas before crossing the Atlantic. I love learning cool stuff like this! They were super fun to make as a couple (if you do it on your own just make sure to prep EVERYTHING in advance so you're not madly chopping while three things are on the stove at once), as I enlisted my husband as dough maker and empanada stuffer while I made the mushroom, corn, cilantro and cotija filling along with the sauce that combines toasted pepitas, vinegar, honey, hot sauce, and cilantro stems (what an awesome way to use these up since the leaves are used in the filling!), then fried them up.
TIP: you never need as much oil as they say in these recipes to make them, and coconut oil works like a charm if you run out of a neutral oil like sunflower (ask me how I know, lol...).
You can bake them, and our new microwave has an air fry feature as well, so next time we'll play with these options, but last night we wanted to start out traditional, and WOW they were amazing. I am usually touch and go on empanadas because I don't care for the often boring fillings that many restaurants use, but these were life changers, y'all. And I did not miss the meat at all as those roasted oyster mushrooms were soooo good. I ultimately served the empanadas with a side of organic volcano rice seasoned with cumin, chili and lime (along with the amazing flavor that comes from my rule of always using homemade stock to cook up any non-sushi rice) and greens, and dang! So good that the 10 we made create zero leftovers (whoops...).
Sustainability Tips: 1) Pre-made masa discs are garbage and full of chemicals. The dough takes just minutes to make from organic masa, water and salt.
2) You do NOT need to use plastic wrap to separate your empanada rounds. Parchment works wonderfully AND can go right into your compost bin.
3) Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) can be found for way cheaper in the bulk aisle, along with ground chili. Go organic on both!