Panamanian Empanadas (Vegan Style)

This month is Panama month on Gormandize! Panamanian cuisine is fun - lots of corn and lots of empanadas. I can't pass up an opportunity to make empanadas, they're so cute and so very yummy. When we had Argentina month I also made a couple of batches of empanadas - Sweetcorn Empanadas and Pumpkin and Jalapeño Empanadas. When we had Brazil month I also made Olive & Hearts of Palm Empadinhas, which are similar but in little cute pie form - they were spectacular!

Panamanian empanadas can be filled with many things, but they're most often filled with beef. I've made these with a substitute, nutmeat which is what I use to make my bolognaise. The filling is really rich and delicious.

Making empanadas in the past, I've struggled with the fact that none of the recipes in my cookbooks or on the internet for empanadas tell me to poke holes in the top of the empanadas to let the steam out while they cooked. So I didn't when I first tried making them. The result was that they puffed up a lot and many of them burst open while they were cooking. So I poked holes in my later attempts and they worked much better - none of them burst open and they didn't puff up so much. If anybody knows the secret to not poking holes in them and still getting them to work then please let me know!

Panamanian Empanadas

1 batch empanada dough (I just used this recipe from Global Table Adventure, but I used 1 1/2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup wholemeal flour)
Soy milk, for brushing

1 x 400g can of nutmeat
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

To Make
1. Make the empanada dough and put it in the fridge while you make the filling. You'll also want to preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Finely chop the can of nutmeat (you could also pulse a couple of times in the food processor until it has the consistency of mince meat). 
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the diced onion. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent and then add the garlic and chilli flakes. Cook for a further 30 seconds.
4. Add the minced nutmeat, tomato paste and water. Simmer until the liquid has reduced down. Season to taste and set aside to cool.
5. Roll the dough out on a floured bench top quite thin. Use a cutter or a bowl with a diameter of 12-13cm to cut out circles in the dough.
6. Place about a dessert spoon of the filling in the centre of the circle. Dampen the edges with water and press them together. You can just use a fork to press the edges together or you can try the traditional repulgue edging - there is a video on Global Table Adventure.
7. Continue with remaining dough and filling - you will have some filling left over (you can use these in some store bought puff pastry to made little triangles or money bags).
8. Arrange on a tray and use a fork to poke some holes in the top. Brush with milk and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Makes about 12 medium sized empanadas (and a little leftover filling).

This month I'm featuring recipes from Panama.
Check out my other Panamanian recipe posts:

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