Friday, July 8, 2016

Baker's Corner: Vegetarian Empanada Gallega

First things first - Empanada Gallega (Galician pie), a large two-crusted savoury pie originating from Spain, is not meant to be vegetarian. The traditional version usually has seafood and/or pork in the filling. Like a lot of global dishes that I have featured on my blog before, I have tweaked this recipe to suit my cooking style. So I have no absolutely no qualms in admitting that this is not an authentic recipe. But then again, a combination of crispy crust, soft bread and a delicious filling (meat or no meat) - that's a no brainer right? Who wouldn't want that? Did I hear a 'Hell Yeah?!

I realized I've featured a number of sweet bakes and desserts in quick succession since the last few weeks so it was time to change gears and go the savoury route. I came across this recipe by sheer accident. I was searching for some info online and then my attention got diverted a wee bit and soon I got carried away to the extent that I couldn't even remember what I had been originally looking for! Haha! Does that happen to you? It happens to me a LOT!

Anyway, my mom was in town then and I wanted to bake something nice for her so I ended up experimenting with this dish barely 10 mins after I had stumbled upon it. The ingredients weren't too many and fortunately for me, all pantry staples so it didn't take much effort to put it together.

In the end - it looked good, I liked it, she liked it so win-win-win! 

If you feel like tucking into savoury pie then I suggest you try this recipe and enjoy what it has to offer. Feel free to amp it up with fresh seasonal produce and play around with the seasonings. It is really up to your taste and preferences so there is plenty of room for creativity.

Empanada Gallega (Vegetarian Version)

Preparation time: 70-90 min (includes dough rising time)
Baking time: ~ 50 min
Serves: 3-4
Recipe category: Main course/Spanish
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe source: Partially adapted from here


For the filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder Optional
2 hard boiled eggs, cut into big chunks Optional
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For the bread

2-3/4 cup all purpose flour or plain flour
1 cup lukewarm water (120ºF or 49ºC)
1/2 tbsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil + more for greasing
3 tbsp whole milk (for the milk wash) 


For the filling:

1. Place the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until onion is soft, fragrant, and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.

2. Add the minced garlic, chopped bell pepper, tomato, paprika and red chilli powder and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and vegetables are very soft and fragrant.

3. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped boiled eggs and give it a gentle mix.

4. Keep the filling aside to cool completely.

For the bread:

1. In a large bowl add flour, salt and instant yeast and mix well.

2. Add oil and lukewarm water and knead to form a soft dough. Knead until it becomes cohesive, moist and elastic. You can use your hands for this (~ 10 min) or the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer (~ 6 min on low speed). 

3. Place dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set it aside for 1 hour until it doubles in bulk.

4. Punch down the dough and divide it into two portions. Keep one portion covered while working on the other.

Putting everything together:

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Roll out the dough into a round, rectangular or square oven safe dish/tin to a size larger than the base of the dish. The thickness of the dough totally depends on how you like it to be. Grease the dish with olive oil and place the rolled out dough on it.

2. Spread the cooled filling over the dough.

3. From the other portion of the dough, take 2/3rd and roll it to the size of the dish’s base. Place it on the filling and crimp sides joining the top layer of dough with the base.

Make a little steam vent in the center of the top crust, which prevents it from puffing up into an airy dome during baking. I forgot to do this! 

4. With the remaining  dough decorate the top however you fancy. I made a simple lattice pattern.

5. Brush the top of the dough with milk. Or you could also do an egg wash for a glossy finish. 

6. Bake the empanada gallega until the crust is browned (~50 min).

7. Remove from oven and remove it from the dish or tin. Allow it to cool completely on wire rack.

8. Cut into wedges and serve it warm or at room temperature alongside a mixed salad.

  • If you don't consume eggs, you can replace the eggs with sliced and cooked button mushrooms 
  • You can add in green or black olives, raisins or cheese (fresh queso or mozzarella) to the filling 
  • You can use fresh flat-leaf parsley as a garnish for the filling. I didn't have any so didn't use 
  • All-purpose flour can be substituted in this recipe with bread flour or wheat flour
  • A metallic square, rectangular or round tin used to bake cakes can be used for baking the pie
  • You can make one big pie or several smaller empanadillas depending on how you want to serve this dish 
  • You can refrigerate the leftovers and then reheat it in a skillet or in the oven


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