Didn’t want to miss out on our weekly potluck while farm-sitting, so I volunteered to host this week instead. I was also really excited to make a heaping stack of empanadas, and figured this was my chance! I originally envisioned roasting and shredding beets, marinating them in lime juice and chili, and crumbling in some feta. When I went to harvest the beets however, I could only find tiny ones. Perhaps I’ll make another round of empanadas when they fatten up, but in the meantime, these sun dried tomato and arugula empanadas were better than I ever imagined! So grateful for a fun night of good food and wonderful company.
3 1/2 cups masa harina
2 1/2 cups + a few tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
NOTE: This masa is also perfect for making tortillas or pupusas.
About 1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
A few handfuls arugula
A fistful of dried cherry tomatoes (or larger tomatoes cut into pieces), rehydrated
Mix together masa harina, salt, and 2 cups of water to form a dry, crumbly dough. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes (perhaps while you grate the cheese). Stir and/or knead in an additional 1/2 cup of water to form a soft dough that just comes together when pressed. It will likely be necessary to add a bit more water at this point or later on. Be carefully to do so very gradually, as a wet, sticky dough is hard to work with. Take a handful and roll into a ball about the size of a tennis ball or a little smaller. Place in the center of a tortillas press, between two sheets of plastic, and flatten. Sprinkle cheese onto half of the circle, leaving the edge clear. Arrange three cherry tomatoes and a few leaves of arugula on top. Carefully lift one corner of the bottom piece of plastic to fold the “blank” half of the empanada over top and press edges to seal. Place empanada on a heated but un-greased cast iron griddle, pan, or comal and allow to cook on medium heat for a couple minutes, then flip and cook for a couple more minutes on the other side, until both sides are lightly crisp and golden. Or to your liking. I love them lightly charred. Meanwhile, make the next empanada or two. I usually heat two pans at a time to keep the operation cranking, and keep them warm in the oven. Before you know it, you’ll have a plateful of some of the best empanadas I’ve ever eaten.
Oh, and in the off-chance that an empanada totally falls apart before you get it to the griddle, simply smoosh it back into a ball, pressing the filling into the center and folding the masa around it, press it ever so slightly to make a thick disc, and throw it on the griddle for a pupusa of sorts. If you find the masa cracks and crumbles all over the place when you press it or fold it, or if you end up with a crumble at the bottom of the bowl towards the end, add a little more water, no more than a tablespoon at a time.
Will definitely be making these again soon!