My friend Melissa came to visit this weekend. Melissa is one of those friends who takes you as you are. No matter how long it has been since we have seen each other, we pick up right where we left off. We always have awesome adventures, and I have no doubt that I am a better person because I met Melissa. One of the great things about my BFF is her generosity; she never shows up empty-handed! This time she brought fresh picked produce from her family’s vegetable garden and a bunch of flowers: a delicate arrangement of snapdragons and lavender, transported in a small clear plastic cup in her car’s cupholder for the two hour drive.
We had a lovely weekend sunbathing at the river, cooking fresh local food, and spending hours chatting about work, families, boys, and life. The usual. I was so sad to put her on the train Monday morning! When I arrived home from sending her off on her return trip to NYC, I felt antsy. To take my mind off the sudden quiet of my house, I headed to the kitchen to find a way to use up an abundance of fresh strawberries.
Feeling super girly, I made a pretty pink filling of strawberries, fresh chevre, and black pepper. Then I made a buttery empanada dough to surround the strawberries and goat cheese in a soft, light, flaky crust.
Like a sunny afternoon at the river, a meandering bicycle ride, or a late night of girl talk, these soft little pastries are oh so whimsical. Sure, we cut them out into almost perfect circles. But then we stuff, fold, crimp, and brush them, then shower them in sugar. No two empanadas are the same. They’re all about taking it easy, having fun, and unapologetically being what they are. On the inside, they’re sweet, tangy, peppery and utterly unpredictable. On the outside, each one is uniquely beautiful (and so buttery…. have I mentioned the butter?). Edges not perfectly crimped? Filling spilling out onto the pan? Overstuffed, understuffed, thick, thin or lopsided. It doesn’t matter.
As the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Empanadas
Makes about 16 empanadas
- 2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp cold water
- 1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 4 oz. fresh chevre (goat cheese)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- about a palmful of granulated sugar (white or turbinado)
- Add flour and salt to a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- Beat together one egg, 1/2 cup of water and vinegar. Add to flour mixture and incorporate with a fork.
- Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times just until the dough comes together.
- Roll the dough into a ball and flatten slightly. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- For the filling, combine strawberries, goat cheese and black pepper in a small bowl. Stir and mash ingredients together until combined.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F when ready to assemble the empanadas.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator once chilled. On a floured surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Work in batches depending on the size of your surface.
- Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or the rim of a wide drinking glass, cut out roughly 3 inch rounds.
- Spoon 1 tsp filling into the center of each one. Fold the circle in half and crimp the edges using the tines of a fork or your fingers for a more rustic look. Place the empanadas on a prepared baking sheet, 1 inch apart.
- Beat the remaining egg with 1 Tbsp water. Brush each empanada with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.