Spinach and Cheese Empanadas

Spinach and Cheese Empanadas

Recently I catered a small dinner party where the client requested empanadas to be put on the menu.

“Of course!” I said.

I mean, I’ve made empanadas before, why not?

The only problem was, when I make them for myself I cheat and use the canned Pillsbury croissant dough. You know, the one that you have to peel the paper off of the sides and then slam on the counter so it pops open? (That small canister never fails to elicit a yelp from me when it explodes, scaring me half to death.) Can’t they find a better way to get that dough out of the can?! Perhaps it’s some mean ploy they use for a laugh when they think of all the people with their eyes screwed shut not knowing when it will combust…

Oh, wait…

Does this only happen to me?

Anyway… I realize I’ve strayed a bit from the point of this story.

When I realized I’d be serving these at a catered event, I decided I’d better up my dough game!

I feel like dough is very intimidating to most people (myself included). But when you think about it, it’s really just flour, water, and butter mixed and kneaded all together.

 Left to right steps to fold empanada. Left to right steps to fold empanada.

For me, the more challenging part was getting them to look neatly crimped together at the ends. Although I often find myself working on teeny tiny babies, making the smallest of incisions and sutures—the dexterity that I have as a nurse practitioner somehow gets lost in translation when working with dough.

Of course, what could I do to solve this problem, but consult my friend Mr. Google. I took a short trip down the rabbit hole that is the internet. And by short, I mean long. And by long, I mean I started by watching Spanish women “repulgue” empanadas, which led to a travel article on Spain, which then made me click on a Greece travel website, and an hour later I was looking at plane flights to Santorini. Okay so sometimes I get a little distracted… Right when I was about to book $1,000 flight to Greece, I remembered the task at hand and went back to the youtube video that started this quest. I was ready to start making empanadas!

Yields: 6-8 empanadas

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Fridge Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 70 min


2 ¼ cup all purpose flour

1 stick cold butter, cubed

2 eggs, reserving one for an egg wash

1/3 cup cold water

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups spinach, chopped

1 cup reduced fat monterey jack cheese

4 tbsp chopped walnuts

1.    Mix flour and butter with hands or a pastry blender. Mix until butter becomes pea sized. Add 1 egg and water. Mix until it just starts to come together. Dough should be shaggy.

2.    Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate X ~30 minutes.

3.    Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp water and garlic in a pan over med/high heat. Add spinach and walnuts. Cook, stirring occasionally until spinach has wilted. Let cool.

4.    Remove dough from fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out dough to ~1/8 inch thick. Cut out circles from dough approximately 4 inches in diameter. Repeat with remainder of dough.

5.    Place 2 tbsp cheese onto each round. Evenly distribute spinach mixture to rounds.

6.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7.    Crack remaining egg in a bowl and use egg wash to line the perimeter of the dough (this will help seal the empanadas).

8.    Fold dough in half, leaving ~1/2 inch along the edges with no filling. Press edges together while pushing the filling to the center.

9.    Take one end of the empanada and fold over a small piece toward the fillings (see above pics). Continue small folds all the way around the empanada until completely sealed. Repeat with all empanadas. This is called a repulgue.

10.  Brush remainder of egg wash along top of all the empanadas and bake ~15-20 minutes or until golden.

The Cook’s 2 Cents:

·     If you’re having a hard time with the folds, you can alternatively use a fork pressing down the filling free sides to seal.

·     Be careful not to overfill the dough or all the insides will end up on the bottom of your stove!

·     This dough is extremely easy to make, but if you’re feeling intimidated—I’d been using Pillsbury for years before this experiment. It’s okay to cheat sometimes!

·      I flipped over a small/medium sized bowl to cut the circles. It made it easy to make them all uniform in size.

·     You can use pretty much any filling you want in these. In fact, I tried 8 different types before I landed on this recipe. Goat cheese, diced onions, mushrooms, ground beef!

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 1 empanada

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Calories: 241               Fat: 21g           Sodium: 268mg          Carbs: 4g         Sugars: 0         Fiber: 1g          Protein: 10g