Pesto Empanadas

Pesto Empanadas

As one of the most popular street food snacks in the world, empanadas, or at least versions of them, can be found everywhere, from Spain to South America to Indonesia.

Although recipes vary widely, you'll most commonly find these half-moon shaped dough parcels filled with delicious savoury ingredients such as ground meat, fish, cheese, and vegetables.

Typically flavoured with lots of herbs, spices, and aromatics, we do something that will probably get us banned from Argentina for life, which is to simply ditch them and let our pestos provide the bulk of the flavour.

We'll make the dough from scratch if we can be bothered, but most of the time we find shop-bought shortcrust pastry is perfectly adequate. Admittedly, the pre-made stuff does result in a slightly flakier empanada than a traditional corn-based dough, but as people who have grown up with Cornish pasties, we rather like the texture.

Recommended equipment
Digital scales
Rolling pin
Pastry cutters
Pastry brush

Pro tip
Just like Bolognese, goulash, and pizza, empanada fillings are even better the next day if allowed to mingle overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients for 30 empanadas

Ground beef* 250g
Pesto 100g
Shortcrust pastry 1kg
Hard-boiled egg x1
Small onion x1
Red pepper x1
Garlic x2 cloves
Seasoning to taste
Egg yolks as needed
Vegetable oil as needed

* The beef should ideally be 15%-20%

Dice the onion, red pepper, and garlic, and gently fry until softened but not browned. Set aside.

Hard-boil your egg (we opt for 8 minutes on a rolling simmer), then cool, peel, chop into small chunks, and add to your vegetable mixture.

Brown the beef in batches until nicely caramelised. Add it to your vegetable/egg mixture and season with a little salt and pepper.

Stir through the pesto and either start constructing your empanadas immediately or, if time permits, store in the fridge overnight to allow the ingredients to get to know each other.

You should end up with about 450g of filling, which gives you enough to make 30 empanadas if you follow our guidance of around 15g filling for each one.

Dust your surface with flour and roll the pastry until about the thickness of a 2p coin. Cut out 10-12cm circles with a pastry cutter, which should yield 30 dough circles from 1kg of pastry.

Weigh the filling (or just eyeball it if you don't have scales) and add it to the centre of each circle. Brush around the edges with a little water and fold over one half to create a half-moon shape. Crimp with the tips of a fork and continue with the rest of the batch.

Pre-heat a 175°C fan oven and brush each empanada with beaten egg yolk. Place on grease-proof paper and bake for 10-12 minutes until the filling is piping hot and the pastry is golden brown.

Empanadas taste great cold, but we insist on devouring ours while still warm.