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This past Christmas my sister gave me some subscriptions to some of my favorite cooking magazines.  In these lean financial times it is nice to get something in the mail that is not a bill and brings some joy!  I have been a consumate consumer of cooking magazines for a really long time.  I can remember my mom occasionally having a Gourmet laying around the house.  The ingredients sounded so exotic to me back then.  Now I still read the usual suspects such as Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Cucina Italiana to name a few.  My sister gave me a subscription to Vegetarian Times as well and that is where this recipe has been adapted from.

Since my sister was an exchange student in Ecuador in the mid 90’s my family has had the pleasure of being introduced to many Central and South American food traditions.  I have to admit that empanadas are one of my favorites.  They are stuffed dough pillows.  There are also versions of it in Spain and Haiti.  Almost evey culture has a version of empanadas.  India has samosas, Jews have knishes, the British have pasties, Poland has given us pierogis, and the USA has provided the world with mass marketed Hot Pockets.

You can form these by hand but I used my sister’s empanada mold that she procured on Amazon.

Dough (or you can buy the pre-prepared empanada rounds in the freezer section of your market)

2 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour
11/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. tumeric (for color)
6 tblsp. olive oil (get it cold by putting it in a glass cup or jar and placing in the freezer for a 1/2 hr)
3/4 c. ice cold H2O
1 tblsp. distilled white vinegar

Sift the flour, salt, and tumeric in a bowl and dump into the food processor.  Add the olive oil by tblsp. into the food processor until mixture looks like a course sand.  Add the vinegar to the ice water and add to the mixture and process until a pliable  dough forms.  You may need a bit more or less of the water as making dough is an inexact science!  Gather dough up in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk,  and chill for at least an hour or overnight.

Black Bean and Plantain Filling

2 tblsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped fine
1 chipolte (smoked jalapenos in adobo sauce sold in cans  in Spanish section of supermarket), chopped fine
2 cloved garlic, grated
2 plantains, peeled and diced
11/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. adobo sauce
1/4 tsp. coriander
handful of cilantro, chopped fine.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat.  Saute onion for about 5 min until soft.  Add peppers and garlic and cook till further softened.  Add the beans, plantains, and the rest of the ingredients (except for cilantro).  Drop heat down to medium and cook until spices fragrant (about 8-10 min.).  Lastly, stir in cilantro and get ready to stuff.

Salsa

1  28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained (save the juice)
1 large onion cut into quarters
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
3 garlic cloves
the juice of 2 limes
a handful of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into the food processor or blender and process till combined.  Add the reserved tomato juice if too thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I add a 1/2 tsp. of salt at a time).

Stuffing the Empanadas

Preheat oven to 350 F

Take your dough out the the fridge and unwrap it.  Place it on a floured workspace (I used my largest cutting board) and divide into 12 balls.  Roll out each ball on floured board to approximately 6-7 inches (I used an empty wine bottle in lieu of a rolling pin which I lack).  Fill with 2 tblsp. filling and brush edges of dough with H2O.  Put into empanada mold, fold over, and press down.  Remove excess dough and remove empanada from mold.  Put finished empanadas on a cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.  Alternatively, fold the dough circle to close (after brushing edges with H2O) and crimp the edges with a fork to seal.  Chill the finished empanadas for 10 minutes (to firm up the dough for baking).  Bake for 20 minutes until golden.  Cool down for approximately 3 minutes and serve with salsa.

YUM!

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