We chose these Street Vegan empanadas as a cooking project last weekend. They're certainly a commitment: there's pastry dough to make, a chimichurri spice paste to saute the tempeh filling in, a sweet paprika-spiked glaze, some slightly fiddly assembly and a relish on the side. We made it a team effort.
There were a couple of recipe tweaks along the way, making the most of the sweeteners we had on hand and cooking down the onions a long time to make the relish sweeter still. The pastry has an unusual addition of silken tofu and is a huge bother to roll. I must admit that it baked up awfully well, though - a bit of crunch, a bit of crumble and a lot of toasty comfort. The glaze added some welcome brightness of colour and flavour to the hearty pastries, but there was far too much of it and I've reduced the quantity accordingly in the recipe below.
I feel ambivalent about these empanadas - they're very enjoyable, but their flavour isn't as complex as the range of ingredients that make them up. They take a lot of time and a fair number of dishes. I'll admit, though, that they entitled me to plenty of smugness when I toasted leftovers in the sandwich grill at work on Monday.
Chimichurri tempeh empanadas with mint-onion relish
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan)
3 cups plain flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
3/4 cup margarine
3 tablespoons pureed silken tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium sour pickle, finely chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon barley malt syrup
1/2 teaspoon tamari
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons pickled jalapenos, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
300g packet tempeh, crumbled
1/3 cup carrot, grated
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons agave nectar
pinch of ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Begin with the dough. Place the flour, salt, coriander and chilli flakes into a large food processor. Process them for 10-20 seconds to mix the dry ingredients well. Blend in the margarine, then the tofu, then 1/4 cup cold water, until just combined. Turn the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather it together into ball. Wrap the dough up and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
Next, prepare the relish. Pour the oil into a frypan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute them until soft and sweet, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and pickle, sauteing for a couple more minutes. Turn down the heat and stir in the mint, malt syrup, tamari and vinegar. Cook just until the mint has wilted, then turn off the heat completely and transfer the relish the another container.
Time to make the filling. In a spice grinder or blender, briefly blend together the oregano, parsley, garlic, jalapeno, vinegar, pepper, salt and 1/3 cup olive oil. Aim to mix everything together but let the texture of the chimichurri remain a little chunky.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the frypan previously used for the relish. Add the tempeh and carrots and saute them for about 4 minutes, until the tempeh begins to brown. Pour over the chimichurri mixture and stir it through, cooking for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature.
To make the glaze, whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
When you're ready to assemble the empanadas, preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with paper.
Lightly flour a clean bench, and use it to roll out the pastry dough to 2-3mm thick. Cut the dough into 10cm-diameter circles using a biscuit cutter, large glass or similar. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto each pastry circle. Dribble a bit of water around the perimeter of the dough, and fold it into a semi-circle, crimping the edges together with a fork. Repeat with the remaining pastry circles, and pull together the pastry scraps to roll again and make some more. Transfer the empanadas to the baking tray; poke a few air holes with a fork and brush them generously with the glaze. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve the empanadas with the mint-onion relish on the side.