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Kohlrabi and Squash Empanadas

Do you ever have the problem where you have a very good idea, and halfway through you ask yourself, “What could I have been thinking?”

That basically sums up my first time making empanadas. Completely from scratch.

My kitchen ambition and willingness to try to make anything is almost always a good thing. We eat well, and I often remind myself of this on a bad day…that at least I don’t have to eat a bad meal. The downside? Standing in your kitchen making empanadas at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Were they good? Yes. Incredibly so, and when we sat down with the warm, flaky crust in hand, with just enough squash, kohlrabi and mushrooms to emerge from the first bite, and a good, cold beer to finish watching the Florida football game, I almost forgot about my mini-kitchen meltdown. Why you ask? I think it was brought on by the chopping of little pieces, rolling out little circles of dough, nestling in tablespoons of filling and making tiny little fork marks along the edge. This recipe is as much a test of patience as it is of cooking.

So, all of that is a really long way of saying, please make these, they are absolutely delicious, but understand what you are in for. Two solid hours of kitchen work, with your best prep chef at your side, is not for the faint of heart.  But an ultimate reward awaits you (and whoever is lucky enough to join you in eating them) at the end.

Kohlrabi and Squash Empanadas

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 cup winter squash, peeled and diced
1/2 cup porcini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly ground pepper

Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1. Make Dough: Sift flour and salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat together egg, water, and vinegar. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until just incorporated. The mixture will look shaggy. Turn 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 a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.

2. Make Filling: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté shallot and garlic for 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add kohlrabi, a pinch of salt and some fresh pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add squash and mushrooms and continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes until all vegetables are tender but still firm. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and ginger and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning and cook another minute longer if needed. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

3. Form Empanadas: Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll out dough piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make 11 more empanadas in same manner. Be patient!

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 medium-sized empanadas.

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3 comments to Kohlrabi and Squash Empanadas

  • WOW those look exquisite. And I don’t even have a clue what kohlrabi tastes like. Props to your photographer as well =)

    • Thanks for the feedback! Kohlrabi tastes kind of like cabbage, though milder and sweeter, with the crunchiness of a broccoli stem. You must peel it, because the outside tends to be a bit woody, but then you can eat it raw or cooked. It’s delicious sauteed in butter with a little nutmeg on top.

  • Elizabeth Fischer

    Liz, what gorgeous pastry; Sarah, what gorgeous photographs! Yum!