In Argentina you can find empanadas at almost every restaurant, cafe, and bar. Each province has a characteristic style of empanadas. In some provinces, whole olives are added to ground beer empanadas, in others a bit of potato. Of course, each province claims to have the best empanadas. In my province, Tucumán, our signature empanadas are called sfijas. They’re a delicious union of traditional Argentine (or criollo) cuisine with Middle Eastern influences. It’s an open-faced empanada filled with chopped beef, onions and peppers, and a delicious mix of herbs and spices, and always served with a slice of lemon or lime for extra flavor!
|Sfijas - Photo credit: Katie at www.seashellsandsunflowers.com|
While these butternut squash and white bean empanadas are not typical of Tucumán, they are tried and true. I’ve made them for guests visiting from the USA, hungry friends who stop by after our reggaeton dance classes, and also just because! They're savory, homey, and addictive! So go ahead, give them a whirl!
For Roasting the Squash:
1 small butternut squash (about 2 lb), washed and dried
1 teaspoon butter
Salt to taste
Other Filling Ingredients:
1 cup canned white beans (also called cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
Putting It All Together:
20 empanada wrappers – If empanada wrappers unavailable, use any savory pie crust and roll to rounds 1/8 inch thick with diameter 4.5 inches. Keep cold until ready to use.
1 egg yolk, for egg wash
1 tsp butter, for greasing pan
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove pulp and seeds, reserving seeds. Rub surface of squash (the skin and the cut side) with butter.
Place on baking sheet cut side up. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Roast about 40 minutes, until flesh is easily pierced all the way through with a fork.
Rinse the reserved squash seeds, salt liberally, and spread on a greased baking sheet. Roast on another rack in the oven with the squash for 5 minutes. Remove, stir, then return to oven for 3 more minutes, then remove and cool, and eat! These make a delicious snack while you’re cooking! (They're also great in salads and trail mix.)
When squash is fork tender, remove from oven and allow to cool. Then peel one of the halves and cut into ¼ inch cubes. Reserve the other half for some other use. (Note: You might as well leave the oven on after removing the squash, because you'll be baking the empanadas at 400 F just a few minutes later.)
Combine the cubed squash and other filling ingredients in a large bowl.
Take an empanada wrapper in your hand and place 1 heaping tablespoon in the middle.
Bring two edges together like a taco. If the dough is dry, use a pastry brush or your finger to wet the edges with a little water. Starting at one corner pinch and crimp the edges together like so:
If you've never done it, please don't be intimidated! With a little practice you'll be crimping those edges like a pro!
Continue with other empanadas. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, rub egg yolk over the surface.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Special thanks again to Katie for the sfijas photo and to my lovely friend Leah for assisting me with photographing the step-by-step crimping tutorial.