We hardly ever made empanadas de verde or green plantain empanadas at home when I was growing up in Ecuador, mainly because it was easier to go to the market and buy the plantain empanadas freshly made, already assembled, and just needed to bring them home and fry them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. These green plantain empanadas are also served at a lot of coffee shops and restaurants, and are usually served with aji criollo, a spicy hot sauce, or tree tomato aji. The empanadas can be made small to be served as appetizers or large to be served as the main course. The markets also usually had a choice of fillings: cheese or meat. The empanadas de verde con carne or meat are great as well, but there is something so good about melted cheese and green plantains. The dough can be a little bit difficult to manage, especially if you don’t make them that frequently, each time I make empanadas de verde I tell myself I need to do so more frequently or move back to Ecuador, of course once I taste the empanada I realize it was worth fighting with the dough.
4 green plantains
2 tbs butter, room temperature
1 cup mozzarella or monterey jack cheese, grated
1/3 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
- Wash and peel the green plantains, be careful as green plantains tend to stain clothes and cutting boards.
- Cut three of the plantains in half.
- Bring salted water to boil in a large saucepan and add the 3 plantains. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let the cooked plantains sit in the water they cooked in until they are cool enough to handle, if you remove from the water they will get too hard.
- Meanwhile grate the remaining raw plantain.
- Mix the cooked plantains, the raw grated plantain, the egg and the butter in a food processor, blend until a smooth but sticky dough forms.
- Form the dough into a ball and let rest in a bowl at room temperature for a couple of hours. You can also save to use later and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours, but when you remove it from the refrigerator let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Mix the cheese and the onions together.
- Roll the dough to flatten into a thin sheet using a rolling pin, the dough can be difficult to handle, use oil on your hands, dough and rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking.
- Use a round cutter (or round bowl or cup) to cut out round disc shapes, the size of the empanadas is up to you, I usually make them medium or small sized if I’m serving them as appetizers or sides, or large if I’m serving them as a main meal.
- Place a spoonful of the cheese and onion filling in the middle on the empanada disc, fold and seal the empanada, to seal it correctly press the edges gently with your fingers.
- Let the empanadas sit in the refrigerator for about an hour, this will help them seal better. It is possible to fry the empanadas immediately but they are more likely to open while frying.
- Heat the canola oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.
- Add the empanadas, do not overcrowd the pan, and fry on each side until they begin to brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Drain the oil from the empanadas by placing them on a paper towel.
- Serve warm with aji criollo or tree tomato aji.