The Secret life of Empanadas

Go straight to the recipe!

I must say that I’ve not been living on my own for that long. I used to live with my parents back in Spain and before coming to the UK, almost a year ago, I only spent about 7 months living on my own (during my Erasmus).

I think that I developed  during my first stay away my passion for cooking. At my parents’ house my mum is the one that take responsibility, and (sorry mum) she gets annoyed if things aren’t done her way. I assume I learnt by observing her cooking, and she is a great cook as many of my relatives.

The “empanada” pastry/dough, as I know its recipe, might be something specific from my family, it is delicious, has many forms to be done, and can be used for multiple purposes.

I’ve seen my mum and my aunt use this dough recipe so many times, and it is probably one of the things that I’ve cooked most for others, that I think I developed it as my signature, and to be honest, it creates a feeling that always takes me home.

What I am going to share is very precious to me, so be gentle. In my family this dough has been used for creating very big “empanadas”, bread-feeling strudel pastry, pizza base (My Italian friends will know it as  a salty ‘coca’ base and I guess I better not call it pizza dough in front of them), and I’ve played with it as a sweet dough too.

My love for this dough made me want to cook an “empanada” for Leo, and even it is usually filled with meat or sometimes tuna, my vegetarian take used spinach, mushrooms, onion and blue cheese. In my second take we used a puy lentils version of the “meat” one. Empanada can be filled with any of your favourite ingredients.

This is how I did my first take, and be ready, I am giving you plenty of details.


Recipe Summary

Spinach and Mushroom “Empanada”
(with Blue cheese)


For the dough:

This is tricky, because it depends on how much do you want to make. I work with %, I don’t really know how much of everything I use, and it comes more from intuition and what the mixture demands (more in the Method). You will have plenty of everything, I am sure, but here it is the list of ingredients you’ll need.

  • Self-rising flour
  • Olive oil or Sunflower oil (or both)
  • Milk or Beer (if your result is sweet, use milk. If not, you can use either but I tend to use beer more, even if for this recipe it was milk)
  • salt
  • (for sweet dough) sugar
  • 1 egg

For the filling

  • 200g spinach
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 big onion
  • 100g blue cheese
  • milk
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt



For the dough (1 layer):

  1. My approximation of the liquids would be: In a 200ml glass, 100ml milk or beer (50%) and 75ml oil (40%), you can use just olive or sunflower of mix them.
  2. In a bowl, put a pinch of salt and pour the content of the 200ml glass.
  3. Add flour and mix until you create the homogeneous dough. You might start using a spoon and gradually change to work the dough with your hands. the final texture has to be both “bread-y” and elastic.
  4. Work and spread the dough with a roller in a clean surface. This will be your base. Make sure it is not very thin (transparent), nor thick. It is okay to be medium thin to create a bread texture.
  5. Create another dough layer for the top.
  6. Let the dough rest while you cook the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Chop the onion and the mushrooms to taste. Get ready the spinach and dice the blue cheese.
  2. In a hot light oiled frying pan cook the onion first and add the mushrooms and the spinach
  3. Before it is almost cooked, add some (not all, we want just a hint) blue cheese dice and a little bit of milk to create creaminess.
  4. Once everything is cook and well mixed, spread the filling mixture on top of the base dough.
  5. Add more blue cheese dices on top.

Assembling the empanada:

  1. Don’t be afraid. Take the top dough and put it on top of the base one. The secret to that is not only a good dough (don’t make it too thin) but also that you are confident enough to lift it. If it fails or break, don’t worry, you can pick it up and work the dough again. Nothing is lost.
  2. Cut the edges that will make the borders too thick, we will use them for decoration.
  3. Fold and unify the base with the top dough to create the borders. the technique is similar as making a roll with both layers and making sure it is sealed.
  4. With a fork or a knife create some holes on the top dough by pinching it.
  5. Use the leftover dough (the one you cut) to create strips.
  6. Put the strips on top of your empanada to create the decoration. I did diagonal lines.dsc06616
  7. Preheat the oven at 180°C
  8. Brush your empanada top with an egg wash.
  9. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the dough is golden.
  10. ENJOY!



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