For these festive empanadas, pumpkin is cooked with onion, oregano, paprika and red bell pepper before being used as a filling with black pepper ricotta. This recipe makes extra filling, so use it in salads, as a side dish or in a quesadilla (it also freezes quite well).
This recipe is by Joseph Hernandez and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
For the dough:
- 3 Cups flour
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 6 Ounces (about 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) vegetable shortening
- 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 Cup ice water
- 2 Tablespoons white wine, optional
For the filling:
- 1 pie or sugar pumpkin (about 2 pounds), halved, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/3 Cup vegetable or chicken stock or broth
- 1/4 Teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta
- 1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for brushing
For the dough:
Step 1: In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt. With your fingers or a pastry blender, cut 6 ounces (about 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) vegetable shortening and 4 tablespoons cold, cubed butter into the flour until the mixture yields course, pea-size lumps.
Step 2: Slowly add 1/2 cup ice water (and 2 tablespoons white wine, if using), mixing until just incorporated.
Step 3: On a lightly floured surface, turn out the shaggy mix; gather it into a ball, kneading with the heel of your hand until a soft dough forms, being sure not to overwork it.
Step 4: Wrap dough in a dish towel; let rest in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.
For the filling:
Step 1: While the dough is resting, heat a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 1 (2-pound) pie or sugar pumpkin (halved, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes) until just tender, about 5 minutes; drain.
Step 2: In a large skillet over moderate heat, cook 1 small, finely chopped onion and 2 cloves minced garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil, stirring, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 tablespoon paprika and 1 seeded and chopped red bell pepper. Cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
Step 3: Add cooked pumpkin, 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 1/3 cup vegetable or chicken stock. Heat to a boil; lower heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, 5 to 8 minutes.
Step 4: Uncover pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes. Taste mixture; add additional salt, if needed.
Step 5: Cool filling completely. In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 teaspoon black pepper into 1 1/2 cups ricotta, set aside.
Step 6: Heat the oven to 400 F. Next, set up an assembly line to fill your empanadas.
Step 7: Roll the dough into a log about 12-by-2 1/2 inches; slice it into 12 equal pieces, each about 1-inch thick. Working with one slice at a time, roll dough pieces into circles about 8 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick.
Step 8: Put at least 2 full tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture onto each circle, followed by a tablespoon of peppered ricotta. Leave a rim of bare pastry about 3/4 inch around the edge; brush the rim with a little water. Fold pastry over the filling; shape into half-moons. Seal the edges by pinching with your fingers or using the tines of a fork. Repeat with remaining dough.
Step 9: Place the empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Brush with egg wash (made from 1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water); poke three small holes into each empanada with a toothpick, so steam can escape during baking.
Step 10: Bake until pastry is nicely browned and the filling is piping hot, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately with your favorite salsa.