Recipe for Spinach and Feta Empanadas – perfect for pastry-lovers


For the pastry:
2 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
120g butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2-4 tbsp water

For the filling:
a drizzle of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
300g fresh spinach, shredded
½ tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
100g feta
120g smooth, plain cream cheese

To assemble:
flour for dusting
water for brushing
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk

For the red pepper sauce: (makes 700ml)
3 red peppers, quartered, cored and seeds removed
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
pinch of chilli flakes
drizzle of olive oil
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup cream
salt and pepper

How to
For the pastry: Place the flour, salt and butter into a food processor. Blitz until the butter is incorporated. Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of water and blitz again. Add another tablespoon or two of water if the mixture looks too dry.

Tip the mixture onto the counter. Knead together for a minute until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic and pop in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling: Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a deep frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until wilted. Stir in the nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Transfer to a mixing bowl and leave to cool.

Squeeze excess liquid from the spinach. Crumble the feta into the spinach and add the cream cheese. Mix well to combine. Set aside.

Dust your work surface with a little flour. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4mm. Cut out 10-11cm circles. Press the scraps together, roll out again and cut out more circles. Repeat until you have used all of the pastry.

Divide the spinach filling between the pastry circles, placing a heaped tablespoon or so on each. Brush water around the edges. Carefully fold the pastry circles in half and press the edges together gently with your fingers. Then, use a fork to crimp the edges. Arrange the empanadas on a tray and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Whisk the egg and milk together and brush over the empanadas. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.

While the empanadas are baking you can prepare the sauce. Place the red peppers under a hot grill for 5 minutes on each side or until blackened and blistered. Set aside to cool.

Pop the onion, garlic and chilli flakes in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Sauté over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the red wine vinegar and cream to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and allow to simmer for a further 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside to cool.

Peel the blackened peppers and chop roughly. Add the peppers to a food processor with the tomato sauce. (You can also use a stick blender.) Blitz until everything is well combined. Serve as a dipping sauce with the freshly baked empanadas.

Recipe courtesy of Cupcakes and Couscous – a food blog by Teresa Ulyate

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