Empanadas de Roquefort, Apio y Nuez (Roquefort Cheese, Celery and Walnut Empanadas)By: Hispanic Kitchen
Servings: 16 empanadas
I remember the first time I walked into my small-town neighborhood bakery here in Argentina during the days leading up to Easter. In addition to the usual array of bread, cookies, and pastries, there, piled high on a tray on the counter, stood a mound of flaky, golden empanadas topped with a shimmering layer of sugar. “Empanadas de vigilia,” read the small, hand-lettered sign, and I was immediately intrigued. The baker’s wife explained that she had three varieties of empanadas for sale – all meatless – that they’d prepared especially for Lent.
In Argentina, where Catholicism holds sway as the dominant religion, many people continue to observe the traditional restrictions on eating meat during the season of Lent. As I later discovered, empanadas de vigilia may include any number of fish, vegetable, or cheese fillings with flavors such as tuna, cod, corn, swiss chard, and cheese, making frequent appearances. These empanadas usually feature a flaky style of dough reminiscent of puff pastry, and they’re often topped with a sprinkle of sugar, just like the ones I saw at the bakery.
Of course, these empanadas can be enjoyed at any time of year (irrespective of your religious affiliation), and the Roquefort, celery, and walnut empanadas that we're featuring here top our list of year-round favorites.
- 1 tbsp butter
- ¾ cup Celery peeled and chopped
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper freshly ground
- 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese coarsely shredded
- 1 ½ cup Roquefort cheese (or your favorite blue cheese) crumbled
- 1/3 cup walnuts roughly chopped
- 16 empanada shells puff pastry type (tipo hojaldre) or homemade empanada dough
- For assembling
- 1 glass water
- 1 egg yolk
- granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)
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- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery, salt, and pepper, and cook the celery until it’s completely soft but not brown. Remove the celery from the heat and allow it to cool.
- In a medium bowl, add the mozzarella cheese, Roquefort cheese, walnuts, and celery. Mix thoroughly to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Place a heaping tablespoonful of the cheese mixture in the center of the empanada dough. Resist the urge to overfill the empanadas, as they will be difficult to work with and will likely explode in the oven if you do so. Dip your finger in the glass of water and lightly wet the edge of the dough. Bring the edges of the dough together and press firmly.
- There are several methods used to seal the empanadas (the repulgue). The simplest way involves pressing the tines of a fork around the edge of the empanada.
- Place the empanadas on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and brush them with egg yolk. Sprinkle them lightly with sugar, if desired. Poke holes in the top of the empanadas with a fork to vent the steam (cheese empanadas have a greater tendency to explode). Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.