Plantain-Kale Empanadas

The first (and I think the last) time I had empanadas was about 10 years ago. They were made by a Venezuelan grandma.  It was after church on Sunday night, and she was in town visiting her family who were still relatively new in the community.  They invited about 20 of us over for empanadas.  It’s still amazing to me how she was able to just keep hot empanadas coming out.

I promise the fact that the family became dear friends has nothing to do with that empanada party.  But, it did make me want to learn to make them myself.  For some reason, I never tried until now.


I used this empanada tutorial.  The recipe for the corn-based dough is on the pdf attached to the tutorial (at the bottom of her page).  It’s very similar to the dough and tutorial in Viva Vegan!  Be sure to use the Columbian/Venezuelan masarepa and not tortilla masa harina.

I opted for using my tortilla press instead of rolling out the dough.  I think either would work, but the tortilla press made it pretty easy work.   Also, the tip about using a bowl to seal off the edges of the empanada instead of doing it by hand/with a fork…brilliant!  Every empanada was perfectly sealed.  Plus it gave me enough extra dough to make up three extra empanadas which I filled with mozzarella style Daiya.  I ended up with a few ooey gooey cheesy empanadas that would be perfect with a bowl of tomato soup.

For frying, I put about 1/2-3/4″ in a large cast iron skillet.  It wasn’t enough to cover the empanadas, but since you turn them over anyway, it worked great.  They took about 3 minutes on the first side to reach golden and 1-2 minutes on the second side (each batch got a little shorter as the oil heated up).  The Daiya-only empanadas took about 1/2 the time.

For the main batch of empanadas, I made up my own filling of plantains and kale.  I’m posting it here, because it was good. But, I’d change it up some next time.  Without the dipping sauce it was a little bit dry.  I think I would like it better with more kale and onions and fewer plantains.  I would probably also cut the plantains into a finer dice.  (I’d also like to try a lightly spicy jackfruit version…yummmm)

I was pretty careful not to overfill so the empanadas didn’t tear open.  I used a scant tablespoon,  but I think they could have stood just a little more filling.  That would have been easier to do with the smaller diced plantains and more of the flexible kale.

Plantain-Kale Empanada Filling

2 tsp oil
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
2 ripe plantains, diced
2 cups finely chopped kale (stems removed)
3/8 cup water

In a large skillet, on medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more until garlic starts to brown.  Add plantains.  Continue to saute, stirring regularly, until plantains are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in kale and add water.  Cook just until water has cooked off and kale is wilted, 1-2 minutes.  When the water is gone, if the kale has not yet wilted, just add a little extra water and continue cooking until it is.

Dipping Sauce

I used a little maple syrup thinned out with water and Chipotle Tabasco sauce to taste.  It doesn’t take much of the sauce to make a great sweet-hot punch.

If you’d like to see some more Latin food goodness, check out Newman Improved’s Vegan MoFo posts for this year and Cupcake Kitteh’s cooking through Viva Vegan!



  4 comments for “Plantain-Kale Empanadas

  1. September 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    This recipe looks great! My empanadas are so different than yours and I love variety like this! I don’t have a tortilla press, but I think I could roll out the dough. One of your recipes have been bookmarked again to go on my list of items to make. I see an empanada party in my future! :-)

    • drsimpson
      September 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      ooo…empanada party! I love that idea. I also think this dough would be good for mini pizza rolls. It would be a lot of work, but fun party food.

  2. September 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I am rally glad that this recipe worked out for you. And I lie the fact that you ventured with different fillings. The empanada, like the arepa, is a vessel that can take any filling! Thanks for sharing!! Adin

    • drsimpson
      September 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Adriana! Your tutorial is really well done. I’ve been a big fan (and maker) of arepas for a while now and enjoyed adding the empanada :)

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