Oozing with melted cheese, tender, balsamic-glazed mushrooms and soft caramelized onions, these are the ultimate baked vegetarian empanadas. Our recipe will guide you step-by-step on how to make these delectable Argentine morsels from scratch, including a herbaceous chimichurri dipping sauce to accompany.
Country Number 7: Argentina
Time apparently flies when you are cooking a meal from every country in the world. We just blinked and suddenly we are onto our second week of this challenge! Foremost, we want to say thank you to everyone who is following our journey thus far, your support is greatly appreciated.
Our next country up was Argentina, which marks the first South American cuisine to tackle. Initially, we were a little trepidatious as Argentinean cuisine is notoriously meat-centric. However, we remembered that Argentina is famous for the delightful little parcels of joy that are empanadas and the sweet, sweet nectar that is dulce de leche. Just like that, we realized everything was going to be okay.
Argentine cuisine is strongly influenced by the Italians and Spanish. This is due to the history of immigration from these countries during the colonial period through to the 20th century. The country is most known for its massive agricultural production of beef. Unsurprisingly, Argentina has the second-highest consumption rate of beef in the world, with an average consumption of 55kg of beef a year. Naturally, this means most of the country’s cuisine is centered around meat. Fear not, vegetarians. You can still enjoy Argentina’s cuisine without eating meat, even if the options are a little on the limited side…
Popular Argentinean Vegetarian Dishes
- Provoleta– A very popular dish where slices of pungent cheese are topped with chilli flakes and herbs and grilled. The cheese is served crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside!
- Sorrentinos– A type of filled pasta popular in Argentina, these are very similar to ravioli but larger and circular in shape. They often come in a variety of vegetarian filling including grated cheese, ricotta, vegetables, or nuts.
- Tartas saladas– These refer to savoury pies that come with a variety of fillings. This includes everything from onion, corn, spinach, hard-boiled eggs to pumpkin (similar to our Albanian pumpkin filo pie!).
- Chimichurri– The go-to condiment of the country, Chimichurri is a green sauce/ salsa made with lots of herbs.
- Empanadas– Literally translating to “enbreaded”, empanadas are baked or fried pastry that encase a wide variety of fillings. Whilst they are typically filled with beef, you can still many options for vegetarian empanadas (such as the mushroom cheese ones we’ve made below).
- Alfajores– Two shortbread biscuits sandwiched together, most commonly by dulce de leche (thick caramel made from condensed milk). These are a favourite treat for Argentineans!
Vegetarian rating of Argentinean Cuisine:
Making Vegetarian Baked Empanadas with Mushroom and Cheese
We’re not going to lie, it was real toss up as to whether we should make vegetarian empanadas or Alfajores for our Argentine recipe. Both sounded like such fun foods to make. After a bit of research, we realized that Alfajores are a common treat in many South American countries. Hence, we decided we could sneakily save them for another cuisine.
We’ve been dying to make empanadas from scratch for some time, and they weren’t as difficult as expected to compile. Although, they were very difficult to make look aesthetic. As always, we were madly running out of daylight to take photos of the finished product, so our empanadas suffered from some very sub-standard repulge seals (more about those later). Thankfully, if you don’t have the delicate hands of an Argentinean grandma, you can just seal the empanadas with a fork. We wished we had done this instead of trying to do the fancy method. To be quite frank, we forked up.
Whilst we didn’t have much luck with the folding, we had a bit more luck when it came to experimenting with our empanada fillings. We tried two types of vegetarian fillings. Firstly, we made a filling with roasted sweet potato, refried kidney beans and corn. Secondly, we made a filling with balsamic mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheese. As you can probably infer from the title of this recipe, the cheesy mushroom ones were a clear winner between the two.
Feel free to play around with the fillings for these vegetarian empanadas, adding or taking away ingredients as you please. The fun thing with empanadas is there is no wrong or right way to fill them. You can get as inventive as you like!
What you need to make cheese and mushroom empanadas
- Fresh produce– for the empanadas, you’ll need mushrooms and an onion. For the chimichurri sauce, you’ll need garlic, lemon/ lime and lots of fresh herbs including coriander, flat-leaved parsley and oregano.
- Pantry ingredients– for the empanadas, you’ll need all purpose flour, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and raisins. For the chimichurri sauce, white wine vinegar and olive oil.
- Refrigerated ingredients– for the empanadas, you’ll need butter, eggs, and cheese of your choice for the filling (we used an aged cheddar).
Steps to making empanadas
I know the thought of making empanadas from scratch might sound intimidating. However, it is actually really easy. The dough comes together quickly, requires no resting time and is quite forgiving. Follow these steps and you’ll have fresh-out-the-oven, homemade empanadas on the table in no time!
- Make empanada dough by pulsing together ingredients in food processor
- Make filling by cooking mushrooms and onions in balsamic glaze
- Roll out dough, cut in circles, fill with mushroom mixture, seal and egg wash
- Make chimichurri sauce by blending all ingredients together
- Bake for 18-23 minutes and serve with sauce!
How to fold empanadas
We are by NO means empanada folding experts, as you will be able to tell by the misshapen empanadas in the photos. The good news is, as aforementioned, you can just use a fork to seal your empanadas, which is a fool-proof method. If you’d like to know the proper way to fold empanadas, we’d recommend you take a look at Laylita’s Recipes (where we got the inspiration for this recipe). She provides a very detailed step-by-step on making empanadas.
Servings suggestions for vegetarian empanadas
To have a truly Argentine empanada experience, you can’t go past serving these with chimichurri. Chimichurri is Argentina’s go-to condiment. Falling somewhere between a sauce and a salsa, it is made with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, chilli. It provides just the right freshness and zing to balance out the richness of these mushroom and cheese empanadas. We’ve included a classic recipe for chimichurri below!
Cheese & Mushroom Baked Empanadas with Chimichurri Sauce
- 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 170 g butter (cubed)
- 1 egg
- 1/4-1/2 cup of water
Balsamic Mushroom Cheese Filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion (thinly sliced)
- 3 cups of mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
- 1 egg (whisked)
Chimichurri Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup coriander
- 1/4 cup oregano
- 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
Make empanada dough:
- In a food processor, mix together salt and flour.
- Add in cubes of butter and pulse a few times until combined.
- Continue to pulse as you add in egg and slowly pour in water, only using as much is needed for dough to come together in clumps.
- Take dough out of food processor and divide into two balls. Flatten each ball into a disc shape.
- Dough is ready to use immediately (or can be refrigerated for later use).
Make balsamic mushroom cheese filling:
- Heat oil in large frying pan on medium heat. Add in sliced onions and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add in mushrooms and continue to cook for10 minutes, until tender.
- Add in balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and raisins if using. Cook for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat and chill in the fridge.
Assemble + cook empanadas:
- Pre-heat oven to 190˚C (375˚F) and line two baking trays.
- Roll each ball of dough out till it is about half a centimetre (1/4 inch) thick.
- Using a circle-shaped cutter, cut out circles from dough (we used a small bowl with a 12cm diameter to yield 20 empanadas).
- To assemble, put a spoonful of filling in the middle of each empanada circle.
- To seal, fold the circle in half and press the edges with your fingers. For a basic seal, use a fork to press along the edges.
- If you want to attempt a repulge, gently use your fingers to curl the edges into themselves.
- Using a pastry brush, coat empanadas with egg wash.
- Put complete empanadas on lined baking tray and refrigerate empanadas for 30 minutes (this helps seal in the fillings before baking).
- Once refrigerated, stick baking trays in oven and bake empanadas for 18-23 minutes or until golden.
Make chimichurri dipping sauce:
- Blend all the ingredients listed for a few minutes and serve with empanadas!
Did you make this recipe? We’d love to know! Tell us how it went in the comments below or tag us (@gourmetvegetarians) in your photos on Instagram.
Like this recipe? PIN IT!