Vegan Empanadas – Latin American Vegetable Turnovers
This vegan version of the traditional Latin American empanada recipe stuffs savory turnovers with a cumin- and chili-spiced mixture of seitan (wheat gluten) and vegetables. I like to prepare a batch of empanadas in advance and then reheat them for a quick and satisfying lunch.
Serves: 4 (entrÃ©e-sized portions) or 8 (appetizer-sized portions)
1/2 cup (113 g/80 ml) vegetable shortening
2/3 cup (160 ml) water
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (560 ml)
1 teaspoon salt
1 small boiling potato, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch (6mm) dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch (6mm) dice
1 stalk celery, cut in 1/4-inch (6mm) dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 medium-small yellow onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound (8 oz./227g) seitan (wheat gluten)
6 to 8 green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons raisins
Cut the shortening into chunks and heat with the water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the shortening has melted.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and gradually stir in the water and shortening mixture until incorporated into a smooth dough. If the dough is crumbly, press it together with your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the diced potato, carrot and onion and coil until just done – approximately 6-8 minutes. Rinse vegetables under cold water to cool. Drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin, paprika and chili and heat the spices in the oil until they are fragrant and the cumin seeds start to pop.
Add the onion and garlic and sautÃ© until the onions are transparent.
Add the seitan and sautÃ© for another 5 minutes or so, or until the seitan starts to brown.
Add the olives, raisins and the drained, cooked vegetables and stir gently to mix.
Remove the filling mixture from the frying pan to a mixing bowl and let cool. You can put the mixture in the freezer for five minutes to speed the cooling if desired.
Preheat the oven to 375Â°F (190Â°C).
Assemble the empanadas. Divide the dough into 8 pieces (16 for appetizer-sized portions). Roll out each pieces into a circle 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) in diameter (5 inches/13 cm for appetizer portions). If the dough is sticking to your work surface, you can roll it out between pieces of wax paper or baking parchment.
Place two tablespoons of the filling mixture (1 tablespoon for appetizer portions) onto the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch (1 cm) of space between the filling and the edge of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling to make a semi-circle shape. Roll the bottom edge of the dough up over the top edge and then press the rolled edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
Place the filled empanadas on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. (The bottoms will brown before the tops).