Autumn has begun so let’s celebrate with some fall themed empanadas. These easy potato and pumpkin empanadas are a fusion treat you’re going to really enjoy.
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What Are Empanadas
Empanadas are small pastries from Latin America and Spain.
They most resemble what English speakers call hand pies or Italian calzone.
Typically they are made with wheat flour, butter, lard or oil and a leavening agent may be added. The dough is rolled out, cut into circles and filled with a savory or sweet filling. The pastries are then either baked or deep fried.
The fillings for empanadas are truly and endless possibility of flavors and combinations.
You only need to do a quick Google search for empanadas to come across so many filling varieties. All which depend on the region and country of Latin America and Western Europe. In some parts of Mexico they can resemble Cornish pasties, and in regions of Argentina they can be as simple as filled with fresh cheese or dulce de leche.
In the Spanish region of Galicia they are filled with seafood and are as large as an American pie…to think this all started with a humble meal prepared for medieval Iberian travelers and farm workers.
In my Mexican family an empanada meant a sweet filled pastry with pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
As much as I love both of them I much prefer my savory and spicy versions to the sweet ones. (Beans and cheese is one of my most favorite empanada filling.) I love to enjoy my empanadas as a meal or as an appetizer, they’re perfect party food.
Types of Flours and Fats to Use
In the previous paragraphs you read how versatile these little treats can be. Much like the fillings so can the dough ingredients vary.
A number of cereal plant flours may be used in combination with either animal or vegetable fats.
I typically prefer to use a all purpose flour or Maseca corn flour. Traditional Mexican empanadas are can be made with either, it depends on the filling you’ll be using.
As for the fats I’ve used everything from shortening, butter and oil. In the years that I’ve been making empanadas I have experimented extensively to achieve a delicate and crumbly dough. I’ve used everything from ready made pastry dough to various homemade varieties. But it really is up to you to use a dough that works best with the filling and your desired taste.
These empanadas are a fusion of Mexican and Sri Lankan flavors. Quite unique and the taste…is out of this world!
They are made with potato pieces, roasted and mashed pumpkin. The seasoning is a fusion of flavors, I used curry powder. The combination is amazing and makes a great treat that’s perfect for the autumn.
The dough isn’t like traditional Mexican empanadas dough, but it works great for this specific flavor combination.
As an attempt to make the pastries a bit healthier I used whole wheat flour, which by the way worked great. It’s the same dough that I use for my galettes. The empanadas have a crisp and crumbly outer shell with a tender spicy filling –perfection in my book.
How to Make Fusion Potato and Pumpkin Empanadas
The recipe has several steps but you’ll see they’re actually quite easy.
To begin with you need to roast the pumpkin until it’s soft and can easily be mashed. While you roast the pumpkin you can get started on the other steps.
You’re going to mix all of the ingredients for the dough. Then shape it into a circle, wrap it in plastic wrap or place inside a plastic container with a lid. You can set it aside at room temp until you’re ready to use it.
Once you’re done with the dough the pumpkin should still be roasting, so you can prep the potatoes. Peel them if you want, cut into very small pieces.
As soon as the pumpkin is soft and cooked through, allow to cool until you can handle it then scoop out the flesh and mash it.
Next in a large pan heat the oil then fry the onions until soft. Add the garlic and sauté a couple of minutes before adding the potatoes and sautéing until they are tender. Then add the spices and mashed pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Allow the filling to cool before using it.
While you wait for the filling to cool you can roll out the dough. Sprinkle some flour on a flat surface then place the dough on it. Roll out to 1/4″ thickness and use a round cutter to cut out the circles. I use a 4.75″ empanada/dumpling press, you can get it on Amazon.
Once the filling has cooled you can place a tablespoon or so of the filling in the center of the cutout empanada circle. Fold over to create a half moon shape — or use the mold for a prettier shape. Make sure you seal the edges closely to each other. If you need to you can use a little bit of water or lightly beaten egg to help bind the edges together.
Place the empanadas on a baking sheet then lastly brush with lightly beaten egg, or a plant milk for a fully vegan empanada.
Then you place in the center of the oven and bake until done. Really waiting for them to bake is the hardest part about this!
Serve with a delicious simple pico de gallo salsa and you’re ready to enjoy!
Potato and Pumpkin Empanadas With a Twist
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all purpose white flour
- pinch sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cool water
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil a fruity variety if possible
Potato Pumpkin Filling Ingredients:
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 cup or 220 g mashed hokaido pumpkin squash
- 2 cups potatoes peeled and finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder I used Sri Lankan you can use what you have
- 1.5 Tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- a little water if needed
- 1 small egg lightly beaten, optional
- 1 kuri squash roasted
Easy Pico de Gallo Salsa
- 4 roma tomatoes cubed
- 1/4 small white onion finely chopped
- 1 whole serrano pepper seeded and finely chopped
- 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 whole lime juiced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt adjust to taste
To Roast The Pumpkin
- Slice the pumpkin in half, remove and discard the seeds. Place in a preheated oven at 375F and roast for 30 minutes or until soft.Set aside, allow to cool before mashing and mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
To Prepare Dough:
- In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients until well combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and olive oil. Use your fingers to mix the liquid into the flour mixture, continue until the dough begins to come together. Bring the dough together and kneed into a soft dough. If need be add a little more water or flour to help the binding. Wrap and set aside until ready to use. In the mean time prepare the filling.
To Prepare Potato Pumpkin Filling:
- Heat the oil and sauté onions until soft, then add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Next add potatoes and continue cooking until potatoes are are soft. Add the curry powder and salt to the pan and stir well. Finally add the pumpkin and mix until well combined with rest of ingredients. If need be add a little water until to help mix the pumpkin into the potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Shape and Bake the Empanadas:
- Preheat oven to 390F and prepare a large baking sheet. On a floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch. Cut 12 cm or 4.75 inch round circles from the dough. (I use a pierogi mold).
- Fill each circle with about a tablespoon or so of the filling. Fold over and press or use a fork to press dough layers together. Continue until all of the dough has been used up. I usually end up with a little bit of filling left.
- Place on baking sheet and brush with some olive oil if desired. To keep the recipe vegan I did not brush with beaten egg, but you may do so.
- Place in center of oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh pico de gallo salsa.
Pico de Gallo
- Chop the vegetables and then mix in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To shape the empanadas I use a pierogie/dumpling kit. Get yourself one, if you don’t have one already, it will make the process go much faster. The Sri Lankan curry powder is homemade and the recipe is from S.H. Fernando’s Rice and Curry cookbook. (Fantastic cookbook by the way.)
I make many empanada versions but I have to say that these are one my favorites. The potatoes, pumpkin and curry spices compliment each other so well, as does the tomato and cilantro salsa topping. We have a perfect sweet, salty, spicy combination all wrapped into a crumbly bite.
Really the only way for you to know how amazing they taste is if you try them.
More Empanada Recipes to Try
Here are some delicious empanada recipes for your to try.
- Black bean and Oaxaca Cheese Empanadas
- PUMPKIN EMPANADAS (EMPANADAS DE CALABAZA)
- EMPANADAS DE QUESO
- APPLE EMPANADAS
- Empanadas de Queso(Cheese Empanadas)
- Cajeta Empanadas
- VEGAN EMPANADAS WITH MUSHROOMS IN MOLE
- Sweet Empanadas Dough Recipe
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…