Another empanada recipe inspired by local and seasonal produce: leeks from the farmer’s market. Occasionally I actually go to the farmer’s market with a cooking plan in mind, but most of the time I just let myself get inspired by what I find there, which in the past weeks has included large amounts of leeks and asparagus. I made leek empanadas twice in the last couple of weeks, for my first version I used bacon, hard-boiled eggs, olives and Swiss cheese, everyone loved them but I thought the eggs didn’t add much and the saltiness of the olives didn’t go to well with the bacon, I also felt the empanadas need a little bit of sweetness so the next time I replaced the eggs and olives with raisins and I also used pancetta instead of bacon. The second version was much better, though I preferred the softer taste and the greasiness of the bacon to the pancetta; empanada fillings are very customizable and can be adapted based on what you like, as well as the ingredients you have in stock. I like having a dipping sauce for empanadas, sometimes it is easy to foresee in advance what kind of sauce would go well with a particular empanada, but sometimes you just have to wait until you have a bite of the empanada, when I tried these I thought that some kind of spicy but sweet sauce would be perfect, I made a quick sauce by mixing spicy mustard with a little bit of honey and mayonnaise.
12-15 medium sized empanada discs for baking, homemade or store bought
2-3 leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced
10 oz thick pancetta or thick bacon, diced
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 cup raisins
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, yolk and white separated
- Sautee the bacon or pancetta until it is crispy and golden, drain to remove any excess grease but reserve a couple tablespoons of the grease to cook the leeks.
- Fry the leeks in the grease reserved from the bacon or pancetta and let them cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once the pancetta and leeks have cooled down combine them in a bowl with the grated cheese, raisins, nutmeg, salt if needed, and pepper.
- To assemble the empanadas spoon the leek mixture on to the center of the each empanada disc.
- Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white is a good natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.
- Fold the empanada disc and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers, as a final step use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
- Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake.
- Let the empanadas rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake, this will help them seal better and prevent leaks.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, exact time will depend on the size of the empanadas and your oven.
- Serve warm.