Capetonians will be pleased to read that this post has nothing to do with the water crisis… argh, I said it! We are all a little bit obsessed right now you see, (one’s Facebook feed is enough to induce a severe case of hysteria!), and in uncertain times like these we could all do with a little comfort food. Like a golden pastry pocket that fits snugly in your hand, filled with a delicious cheesy spinach stuffing and dipped in a warming roasted red pepper sauce. I’ll take one! Or three…
I was rather chuffed with these easy spinach and cheese empanadas. I love their wholesome filling and the rich roasted red pepper sauce. There is also something so appealing about getting your own little individual pie to enjoy all to yourself isn’t there?
The empanada dough recipe that I used here can be made in a food processor which means it literally only takes a couple of minutes, what a pleasure. And it is lovely and flaky when baked, yum! This is your weekend cooking sorted, foodies!
SPINACH AND FETA EMPANADAS WITH RED PEPPER SAUCE
For the pastry:
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 120g butter
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2-4 tbsp water
For the filling:
- a drizzle of olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 300g fresh spinach, shredded
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 100g feta
- 120g smooth, plain cream cheese
- flour for dusting
- water for brushing
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp milk
For the red pepper sauce: (makes 700ml)
- 3 red peppers, quartered, cored and seeds removed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- pinch of chilli flakes
- drizzle of olive oil
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup cream
- salt and pepper
1.) For the pastry: Place the flour, salt and butter into a food processor. Blitz until the butter is incorporated. Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of water and blitz again. Add another tablespoon or two of water if the mixture looks too dry.
2.) Tip the mixture onto the counter. Knead together for a minute until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic and pop in the fridge while you make the filling.
3.) For the filling: Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a deep frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until wilted. Stir in the nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Transfer to a mixing bowl and leave to cool.
4.) Squeeze excess liquid from the spinach. Crumble the feta into the spinach and add the cream cheese. Mix well to combine. Set aside.
5.) Dust your work surface with a little flour. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 4mm. Cut out 10-11cm circles. Press the scraps together, roll out again and cut out more circles. Repeat until you have used all of the pastry.
6.) Divide the spinach filling between the pastry circles, placing a heaped tablespoon or so on each. Brush water around the edges. Carefully fold the pastry circles in half and press the edges together gently with your fingers. Then, use a fork to crimp the edges. Arrange the empanadas on a tray and refrigerate for an hour.
7.) Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Whisk the egg and milk together and brush over the empanadas. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
8.) While the empanadas are baking you can prepare the sauce. Place the red peppers under a hot grill for 5 minutes on each side or until blackened and blistered. Set aside to cool.
9.) Pop the onion, garlic and chilli flakes in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Sauté over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
10.) Add the red wine vinegar and cream to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and allow to simmer for a further 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside to cool.
11.) Peel the blackened peppers and chop roughly. Add the peppers to a food processor with the tomato sauce. (You can also use a stick blender.) Blitz until everything is well combined. Serve as a dipping sauce with the freshly baked empanadas.