Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Boy Bakes: Butternut Squash Empanadas

Despite living in Philadelphia for 4 years, we unfortunately were never able to make it out to Vedge, one of Philly's vegan fine dining restaurants. We did, however, buy their cookbook as we have friends who will swear by it. The boy decided he wanted to try making squash empanadas from one of the recipes in the Vedge cookbook. The first try was edible but far from perfect, mainly because the dough was just too thick and salty and whether that was due to the recipe itself or the baker, we just can't say >.<. The second, however, was delicate, light, and just down right delightful -- taste testers approved! We made a few alterations to the original recipe and actually ended up using a different crust recipe we found online the second time around, courtesy of Epicurious and listed below. 

Butternut Squash Empanadas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup iced water
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 egg yolk

24 oz butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1t tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together flour and salt. Cut in butter with either a pastry blender or if you don't have one a fork or your fingertips will work just fine. Mix until you have a lumpy mixture with a sandy texture. In a separate bowl mix together egg, iced water, and vinegar. Add that to the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Knead just a few times until dough is incorporated into a ball. Do not be tempted to knead this dough like bread dough or you will risk losing the flakiness that makes pastry dough so great (speaking from a failed trial or two).  Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

For the filling, peel, deseed, and cube a 1.5-2 lb butternut squash (you will need about 24 oz for this recipe). Toss butternut squash with olive oil then add black pepper and cumin. Roast in a single layer until fork tender (about 15 minutes). Transfer back to bowl, add a pinch of salt, and squash the squash -- pun intended. 
Next step: rolling out the dough. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. 

This picture shows dough that is about 1/4 inch thick -- too thick. This made it difficult to cook through. Our second batch was about 1/8 inch thick and worked out much better. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out 4 inch circles from the dough. Fill each circle with about 1 tbsp squash filling. Fold the circle in half and pleat the edges or use a fork to pinch the edges together. 
Brush pastries with an egg wash then bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. 

Serve with a cilantro dipping sauce. The recipe called for a poblano pepper almond dipping sauce which we didn't totally fall in love with. I did find a recipe for a cilantro jalapeno yogurt sauce that I do want to try at some point! I think it would pair wonderfully with these empanadas. 

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