While strolling around the West Soho meets Tribeca neighborhood which I call my home, my roommate Meghan and I passed Ruben's Empanadas on Grand Street. After a grueling in a feel-good way hour and a half yoga class, I couldn't really stomach the thought of taking down an empanada. Heck, I don't even like empanadas. Do I?
Meghan went for one. The spicy chicken. And after it was warmed up and wrapped up to-go, we were on our way home.
Once we were back in the apartment, Meghan unwrapped her adorable little spicy meat-filled package. C'mon. Empanadas are pretty adorable. They're cute. You can say it.
But what I found fascinating (and to each his/her own for their interpretation for "fascinating") was the consistency of this particular empanada dough. Instead of being greasy and flaky like pie crust (which I admittedly abhor), it was chewy and pizza dough-like. And pizza dough, I can get down with.
This immediately triggered a conversation of all of the endless empanada possibilities that could be created using pizza dough instead of the typical stuff. And before you call it a calzone, let's get a few things clear: there won't be any mozzarella, tomato sauce, or pepperoni here.
But by all means, feel free to go that route. No one. And I mean NO ONE. Would object.
Not only would an empanada make a great week night meal (you can make them on a lazy Sunday and freeze them for easy re-heating) with a side salad but you could totally make miniature versions for cocktail parties.
Here are some of the filling ideas I've been tossing around:
-ground turkey (or beef) enriched with grated carrot, zucchini, onion, and garlic then spiced up with chipotle. spoon onto a small piece of rolled out pizza dough and top with a bit of grated monterey jack cheese (or not), seal, brush with egg wash, and bake (i'm guessing 15 minutes at 400F)
-flaked salt cod (bacalao) added to riced (or mashed) boiled potatoes, sauteed onion and garlic, and a beaten egg, folded together. spoon onto rolled out piece of pizza dough, seal, brush with egg wash and bake.
-shredded rotisserie chicken added to tomato sauce (like that stuff in the can. no joke. it's bland which works in our favor here because we're controlling all the seasoning) with chopped red onion, chipotle, cilantro, and monterey jack cheese. spoon onto rolled out piece of pizza dough, seal, brush with egg wash and bake.
-quickly saute spinach with garlic and red pepper flakes, add in some chickpeas and lightly smash. add a pinch of smoked paprika and remove from heat. spoon onto pizza dough, top with crumbled feta (or goat) cheese, seal, brush with egg wash, and bake off.
Long story short, any leftovers you have, can get tucked inside the dough and with the accompaniment of some shredded cheese, not a soul will be complaining.