Turnip Green, Bean and Cheese Empanadas

food-1342This past Saturday, I attended a dinner with some of my friends. But it wasn’t just any ol’ dinner. This was a dinner with a purpose: to learn more about seasonal, local, and organic foods and how to cook with them. You see, the group decided earlier this spring that we needed a “Supper Society”, and named the group “Dallas SOL” (SOL=sustainable, organic, and local). I was excited when the group extended an invite to me for this month! So, basically, we get together and have dinner, pot-luck style, and each person cooks a dish that uses as many organic and local ingredients as possible. After days and days of deliberation, I finally decided to bring empanadas. I wasn’t sure what I would fill them with, but recently I made empanadas using a recipe I saw on www.smittenkitchen.com. Deb, the owner of that blog, has some wonderful beef empanadas posted. I decided I would take a cue from her, and borrow the dough recipe, adapting it to use the organic whole wheat pastry flour I already had in the pantry. As for the filling? That’s where the “local” part came in.

I went to a small farmer’s market nearby (Georgia’s Farmers Market in Plano, for those readers that are local) and found these amazing turnip greens with little baby turnips still attached. They also had some frozen “fresh” Texas-grown pinto beans available, and some local tomatoes (okay, so they were from West Texas, but it was still Texas). Score! I then decided that with some cheese, these ingredients would be perfect for my empanada filling. So on my way home, I visited a local dairy farm (Lucky Layla farms in Plano) and picked up some lovely Tex-Mex Campesino cheese, which was a lot like Pepper Jack cheese.

The rest of the filling was created pretty much by winging it. All in all, these ended up quite tasty! They took quite a bit of time, however. If you choose not to do the dough by hand and use canned beans, you can save a lot of time. Goya makes frozen empanada disks, and they can be found in the frozen section of some ethnic groceries, maybe even a traditional grocery store. They aren’t quite as pleasant as the handmade dough, however, so if you have the time, I encourage you to make your own!

As for the dinner, everyone’s food was great! It was a fun event, and if I could speak for the others, I’d say we all went home knowing a bit more about organic, local, and sustainable foods, and are all feeling a bit more comfortable cooking with them!

For dough:

 4 ½ c whole wheat pastry flour

3 t salt

1 c (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

2 large eggs (I used local free-range eggs from Jacob’s Reward Farm – http://www.jacobsreward.blogspot.com/)

2/3 c ice water

2 T distilled white vinegar


Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into two flat rectangles and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.


For filling:

 ½ lb fresh pinto beans (or can use dried)

1 tomato

½ c organic vegetable broth

½ T Chipotle chili powder

½ T cumin powder

¼ t salt


1 T olive oil

½ bunch turnip greens, chopped

Salt to taste


1 ½ c shredded pepper jack cheese


Egg wash:

1 egg

2 t water


Place beans in a medium saucepan and pour enough water over to cover. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, simmer for 45 minutes or until soft. (if using dried beans, this may take more like 1 ½ hours) Drain beans and place back into saucepan.


Bring a small separate pot of water to boil. On the bottom part of the tomato, score an “X” through the tomato skin using a knife. Once the water is boiling, add tomato to water and boil for 2-3 minutes or until you see the skins start to peel away from the flesh. Remove tomato from water and set aside to cool. Discard water.


When tomato is cool enough to touch, peel the skin from the tomato. Chop in quarters and using your fingers, remove the seeds and the core. Crush the tomato using your hands into small bits and place into the beans. Add vegetable broth, chipotle powder, cumin, and salt, and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and let simmer 30 minutes or until flavors meld.


Bring olive oil to medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add turnip greens and sauté, stirring occasionally, until limp and tender. Add the beans and stir. Check seasoning and adjust as necessary.


Let mixture cool completely.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.


Remove chilled dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each rectangle of dough to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out 4 inch disks from dough, and roll out disks until they are about 6 inches in diameter. (I used a small bowl to cut out the disks.)


Place about 2 T of greens and beans mixture into middle of each disk. Add 1 T cheese, and fold over disk to form a semi-circle, then crimp edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining empanadas.


For the egg wash: Beat the egg with the water.


Lightly brush empanadas with some of the egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching positions halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to cool on a rack for about 5 minutes.


Makes 12 empanadas. Serve warm.







Filed under Appetizers, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Vegetarian

18 responses to “Turnip Green, Bean and Cheese Empanadas

  1. Cool! I made some empanadas myself. I noticed yours is baked, too. My filling is a little more on the traditional side, but I’m liking your combination. Those turned out nice and yummy!! Great minds think alike, eh?

  2. Mary Lay

    My whole family enjoyed this. I love when I am able to find good recipes and articles on line. I get most of mine on Wacanai. They have really great searching capabilities and a lot of good articles. People link their own page to wacania so you can find some other great sites too. You should think about posting this article on it, I think a lot of people would enjoy it.

  3. I love love love empanadas! These look great. Thanks for sharing!

  4. These sound amazing! Plus you’ve given me some ideas of places to visit next time I’m in the DFW area.

  5. Fair enough about, the prob with foodbuzz. cheers 4 letting me know.
    Now about these empanadas, they sound and look delicious, I am Portuguese so I am no stranger to empanadas, and these look very good indeed. well done. 🙂 xxxx

  6. Left you a note on FoodBuzz, but wanted to comment on your blog as well…the pics are making my mouth water and I am definitely making these this weekend…already added the ingredients to my grocery list!!!! Thanks again for sharing it! Hope you have a chance to check out my blog: http://www.dosesofnourishment.blogspot.com
    All the best to ya!

  7. empanadas are truly versatile,I love the filling you used too! I need to try the baking method next time I make them.

  8. The name ’empanadas’ is new to me. In Asia like Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia, we called it ‘Curry Puff’ or ‘Epok-epok’. Fillings are usually sardine or potatos & these puffs are usually deep-fried tho’ we also have the baked version 🙂

  9. This is a perfect Earth Day Post! The Greens and little turnips sound so wonderful? We will need to check our open market for these? We made dozens of empanadas for a fund raiser and actually they were pretty simple to do in big quantity? Thanks for this. Best from Santa Barbara, s

  10. bergamot

    These look simply great. Would love to try them but sadly I cannot get hold of whole wheat pastry flour here. Any idea if I can substitute with something else. Of course I would like to avoid the all purpose flour.

  11. Very nice. You can also make them ahead of time lay them on a sheet pan cover tightly and freeze them for your next Tapas Party!

  12. Delicious empanadas! Love the filling!

  13. tastyeatsathome

    You can use a combo of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. If you really wanted to find whole wheat pastry flour though, perhaps you could order it online? Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I bought. Honestly, though, it seemed as though substituting flours was a cinch, as it’s not something that is all that dependent upon being light and fluffy (like a loaf of bread or something), so you might do alright with a good amount of whole wheat flour and very little all-purpose. But let me know if you make them, I’m curious as to how it turns out for you!

  14. tastyeatsathome

    Indeed you could! That would make them great for a party, or even if you just wanted to bake up a few at a time for a smaller crowd. Simply bake them for longer once out of the freezer. I’m not entirely sure how long you’d bake them frozen, I’d just keep an eye on the oven and once they looked browned, they’d be ready!

  15. tastyeatsathome

    It seems like no matter what the culture, there are always similar trends in foods, and empanada-like foods are no exception…they’re like dumplings, or as you said, “curry puffs”. Which sound really tasty, by the way, if you have a recipe, I’d love to try them!

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