Half moon pockets with a soft, airy, and slightly crispy dough that is filled with tender mashed black beans, and stringy and creamy Oaxaca cheese. Top with a homemade salsa and you’ve got yourself one amazing treat!
Do you dream about food? Or do certain foods make an appearance in your dreams? Then when you wake up, do you crave that food?
For me when foods make an appearance in my dreams they are usually because I’m nostalgic for that particular food or a place where I ate it. Surprisingly, not every dream of mine involves foods — I guess I think about it enough during my waking hours. (lol)
When I do dream about food I usually wake up craving it and most times think about it relentlessly until I can eat whatever it was I dreamt of.
My last food dream was a very special one that involved my father and his parents. The three of them have passed away but in my dream they were together. This dream was so vivid, so intense and very emotional, it was one I will remember for a long time. I’m still processing the details and meanings of it all, but the one thing about it I will share is that empanadas made an appearance. It was my grandmother that was making bean stuffed empanadas. They had a reddish hue to them and she drizzled salsa on the beans before sealing the little pockets.
The dream stayed with me all day and into the following one too, so on the third I decided to make empanadas inspired by the ones my grandmother was making.
These empanadas are made with corn flour or masa harina, which is a gluten-free so great for those of you with Celiac disease. Additionally, this flour is sold pretty much at any grocery store if not you can always buy it online. They get their reddish hue from the tomato and red chile mixture. To form the flat empanada disks I used a tortilla press and I highly suggest using one otherwise you’ll have to roll out the dough and it will take you a bit longer to prepare. After stuffing each empanada with mashed black beans and stringy Oaxaca cheese, then folded in half and sealed into a half-moon pocket. I normally like to bake my empanadas for a healthier option for with a dough like this, they really do taste best when fried.
Okay, let’s get to the recipe then I’ll tell you all about their taste!
- 2.75 cups or 510 grams or 17.70 oz mashed black beans* (alternatively use pinto beans)
- 200 grams or 7.8 oz of Oaxaca cheese (this is a stringy cheese that pulls apart)
- oil for frying
- salsa for topping (pictured is this recipe)
- 2.5 cup or 340 grams or 12 oz corn masa/masa harina**
- one teaspoon of sea salt
- half teaspoon of baking powder
- 2 medium roma tomatoes, weight is 8.45 oz or 240 grams
- 3dried chiles de arbol
- 1.5+ cups of additional water
- You'll need to prepare the mashed beans before beginning. Also it's important that they not be hot and preferably look warm or even cold out of the fridge is fine. Additionally pull the Oaxaca cheese apart -- it comes in a ball so you'll need to unravel it then pull and break up the long strings into smaller strips. Lastly, do prepare any salsa topping that you'd like to use. I used my tomato and arbol chile salsa and you can print that recipe from here.
- Heat up a comal/griddle or pan and when hot place the tomatoes on it and char evenly on all sides. Once they are blackened carefully remove from the heat and set aside. Now cut open the chiles and remove all of the seeds and veins, then place them on the hot surface and toast on both sides just for a couple of minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled place the tomatoes and the toasted chiles in a blender and add a splash of water just to get the blades going. Blend the ingredient until you achieve a smooth sauce consistency, set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the masa harina, salt, and baking powder -- stir well to distribute the ingredients. Make a well in the centre and pour in the tomato sauce. Use a wooden spoon or your very clean hands to work the sauce into the flour mixture. Once all of the tomato sauce has been incorporated begin adding some of the water onto the dough and continue to mix. Keep adding the water until the 1.5 cups has been used. At this time you may or may not need more water to achieve the smooth dough consistency. You want the dough to not stick to your hands any more, and to keep its form when you ball it up -- the consistency is like that of play-dogh. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Take the large clear sandwich bag and cut it so that you it can be large enough to cover the entire inside of the tortilla press. (If not using the press then you'll need two bags to place the dough balls in between and roll them out with the rolling pin) Once the dough has sat for 10 minutes divide it into either 10 large balls, set aside and do cover them so they don't dry out. Now take one ball and place it in the centre of the plastic bag covered tortilla press. Close the top press lid then use the little handle to flatten into a disk. You don't want to make it too thin otherwise the stuffing may spill out. Now take the disk and place about one heaping tablespoon of the mashed black beans into the centre, then add some strands of the cheese. Bring the two ends of the disk together to form a half moon and pinch the edges to seal. Set aside and repeat the whole process until all of the dough has been used.
- Line a large plate with a few paper towels and set it aside, also have a set of tongs ready to use. Heat the oil in a frying pan, I head the oil over medium heat and dip a wooden spoon into it to test the temperature. I know it's ready when the submerged spoon has bubbles forming around it -- the more technical way is to heat the oil to 365°F or 185°C. I used half of one regular sized bottle of vegetable oil for frying, you just need enough oil to submerge at least half of the empanada. Once the oil is hot enough, very carefully place an empanada into the oil. Depending on the size of your pan you may be able to fry two or more at a time. Fry on both sides until the empanadas are more golden and feel a bit crispy around the edges. Carefully remove from the hot oil and allow to drain off any excess oil on the paper towel lined plate. Allow to cool for a bit before serving. Serve with your salsa of choice as an appetiser or a light meal.
**When purchasing your corn masa make sure that it's not the one for making tamales dough. The tamal one has a different, courser texture.
*** With this recipe I made 10 quite large empanadas, which we ate as a main dish. If you'd like you can divide the dough into smaller pieces and get around 20 appetiser-size empanadas.
The empanadas are very easy to cook and every little effort is well worth it. They are tender, airy and slightly crispy on the outside. Then you bite into the deliciousness of the savoury black beans and then it’s followed by the creaminess of the stringy Oaxaca cheese. The empanadas taste amazing on their own when you drizzle each bite with some spicy salsa, then it’s a bit of heaven in each bite.
These little pockets are a perfect appetizer for your family or for any get-together. But if you’d like, they may also be enjoyed as a light lunch or dinner, and for a fuller meal you can add a soup or a salad on the side. Anyway you eat them, I promise you’re going to devour them.
Thank you for stopping by! Take care of yourselves and we’ll see you soon for another scrumptious meatless dish.