During my semester in Spain, above all, I fell in love with the cuisine. For the real Spanish experience, you simply can’t miss handmade empanada!
Empanadas are well-known all over the world and there are many variations. Their origin is – as so often – disputed, but the Galician version is widely considered the original. This traditional version is usually stuffed with tuna and bell peppers and covers the whole baking tray. You can also often find empanadas as small handy snacks (empanadillas) with all kinds of ingredients and even different doughs.
I’ll show you how to make a traditional Galician empanada. For myself, I made a vegetarian version.
Empanada is super practical because you can eat it cold and cut into pieces when you’re out and about or as finger food.
Here come the holiday feelings 😊
Ingredients for the dough
- 450 g / 3 ⅔ cups flour
- 90 g / 3 oz lard (I used vegetarian lard based on butter)
- 50 g / ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 25 g / 1 cube fresh yeast
- 50 g / ¼ cup white wine
- 50 g / ¼ cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs (one to put in the dough and one to brush the empanada)
- 1 large green pepper
- 1/2 large red pepper
- 2 small onions
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 250 g / 9 oz tomato puree
- 200 g / 1 cup canned tuna (7 oz vegetarian mince)
- 1 small tin of green olives without stones
- 2 eggs
- extra virgin olive oil
Please note that the original recipe used metric units.
We start with the dough so that we can make the stuffing while the dough rises. I prefer to make the dough by hand on the work surface. I find it works best that way, but you can also use a bowl and a food processor / mixer.
Pour the flour onto the work surface and form a dent (volcano shape). Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water and tip into the volcano. Add white wine, olive oil, one egg, lard and salt. Mix ingredients and knead for a long time, preferably up to 10 minutes, until the empanada dough has a smooth, even consistency. Roll into a ball, brush with oil, place in a container and leave covered in a warm place for an hour until about doubled in size.
The traditional empanada stuffing is made with tuna and bell peppers. For my stuffing, I used a 200 gram packet of vegetarian mushroom-based mince instead of tuna. In principle, however, you can use anything; spinach-feta stuffings, for example, are popular and very tasty.
Cut the onion and bell peppers into fine strips. Lightly fry the onion in a little olive oil, then add the bell peppers and pressed garlic (however much you like). Fry the vegetables for 10-15 minutes on low heat until they are quite soft but not burnt (this would turn the stuffing bitter). Chop the tomatoes, add them and simmer, covered, for another 15 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and salt.
While the sauce is cooking, boil the eggs and chop them as well as the olives.
Drain and crumble the tuna or fry and season the vegetarian mince and add to the sauce. Add the eggs and olives. Mix the stuffing well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 356 °F.
Knead the dough lightly to let out some air. Divide into two slightly unequal parts, roll into balls and leave to rise for another five minutes. Roll out both balls between baking paper until they are very thin and rectangular. The paper will help later when assembling the empanada.
Place the smaller sheet of dough on the baking tray leaving the baking paper underneath. Spread the stuffing on top, leaving out the edge. Place the bigger dough over the stuffing and remove any irregular edges. The leftovers are often used to form decorations for the empanada (I made a flower).
Now seal the edge: squeeze a piece of the edge between two fingers and turn it inwards. This doesn’t always work on the first try, be brave! Use the twisting motion to seal the whole edge of the dough. I turn the tray on the spot while doing so.
Now place the decoration on top of the dough, if desired. Beat the egg and brush the entire surface of the dough with it. Poke one or two holes in the dough with a knife so that the steam can escape during baking.
Bake at 180 °C / 356 °F for about 45 minutes or until the empanada looks crispy golden brown. The baking time is approximate and depends on the oven.
• The stuffing should be moist but not very wet. If there is too much moisture, the dough will remain mushy; if the stuffing is dry, it will burn easily.
• I made a rectangular empanada because it is easier to cut the portions this way, but there are no limits to your creativity when it comes to the shape or stuffing.
• Empanada can be frozen well. It’s best to cut it into suitable pieces and freeze it with some foil between the pieces so that they don’t stick together. To keep it crispy, defrost the empanada slowly in the fridge and heat it in the oven or a pan.
All you need now to fully enjoy your empanada is a nice glass of Spanish red wine.