Belula

Spinach & Mozzarella Empanadas

Belula March 10, 2016 March 30, 2020
Closeup shot of one spinach and mozzarella empanada fresh out the oven

Ever since I moved to Paris every now and then I have desperate cravings for empanadas. However, 9 years ago it was not that easy to find them. Best option was to bake them from scratch. So, after various trials and tests, I kept this recipe as my go to recipe whenever I want to eat empanadas and feel a little closer to Argentina. Hope you like them as much as I do! :)

Are these spinach and mozzarella empanadas vegetarian?

Yes! Definitely vegetarian food. Not vegan though.

Why is the dough for the spinach and mozzarella empanadas tricky to roll out?

Because it can become too elastic and so it tends to shrink when we roll it out. To avoid this:

  • Don't overwork the dough. When you add the water to the dough simply bring the ingredients together. Don't knead the dough. This is what helps develop the gluten present in the flour. This is good for bread. Not good for this kind of pastry crust.
  • Always work with cold dough. Don't be afraid to put the dough back in the fridge if you feel it's now difficult to manipulate.
Overhead shot of the spinach and mozzarella filling in a bowl
Overhead shot of the empanada assembly process
Overhead shot of the spinach empanadas in the process of being filled
Making the repulgue of the spinach and cheese empanadas

How long should the dough for the spinach and mozzarella empanadas should rest in the fridge?

How long should the dough for the spinach and mozzarella empanadas should rest in the fridge?

What's the name of the butter and flour mixture used to make bechamel?

It's called ROUX.

How do I avoid lumps in my bechamel sauce?

  • Roux and milk should me at opposite temperatures. In this case, you should add room temperature milk to your boiling Roux.
  • Once it boils, it's important wo whisk with all the energy you can muster for about a minute.

Can I make the bechamel for the spinach and mozzarella empanadas in advance?

Yes! You can prepare it up to 5 days in advance. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

What type of spinach should I use to make the empanadas?

Either fresh or frozen. The one thing you have to know, is that if you want to make a big batch and freeze some of the empanadas you must use fresh spinach. You can't freeze something that has previously been frozen.

How should I cook the spinach for the spinach and mozzarella empanadas?

  • Raw spinach: over medium heat in a pan over a drizzle of olive oil for about 2 minutes or less. Season. Drain. You should cook your spinach in batches.
  • Frozen spinach: cook following package instructions. Season and drain.

Do I have to remove the excess water of the spinach?

Yes! This is the key to success when making these spinach and mozzarella empanadas.

What will happen if I don't remove the excess water?

This is very important, otherwise the spinach will release the water during cooking, and this will make your spinach and mozzarella empanadas extremely soggy.

How do I remove the excess water from the spinach?

Once it has cooled off put the spinach in the center of a kitchen towel, close it and apply pressure by turning the towel (like a tourniquet) in order to remove all the excess water.

How long should I refrigerate the filling?

Minimum of 4 hours. However, it's better if you refrigerate the filling for your spinach and mozzarella empanadas overnight.

Overhead closeup shot of the spinach empanadas before baking
Closeup shot of one raw empanada on the palm of a hand
Overhead shot of the filled empanadas on a wooden board
45° shot of the baked spinach empanadas on a wooden board

What kind of crimp design should I use for closing the spinach and mozzarella empanadas?

Whichever you like best. I used the one you see in the photo: folding the ends slightly towards the inside and then crimp the dough in 4 different places. As shown in the photo below. You can check my Instagram highlighted stories to see how to make different closings of empanadas.

How can I avoid the spinach and mozzarella empanadas to explode in oven while baking?

  • Use as little water as possible when sealing and closing the empanadas.
  • Don't roll out the dough too thin.
  • Don't fill the empanadas in excess.
  • Bake in a very hot oven at 200 degrees.
  • Make 3 little wholes at the top of the empanada using a skewer.

For how long should I bake the spinach and mozzarella empanadas?

For approximately 20 minutes. This is not an exact science. It will depend on how thick your empanada dough is, on how many empanadas are being baked at the same time and on the oven you have. So, stay close and be vigilant. They are ready when golden. Then you know.

Can the spinach and mozzarella empanadas be frozen before being baked?

Yes, you can. Only if you used fresh spinach and not frozen spinach to make your filling.

What's the procedure I should follow to freeze my spinach and mozzarella empanadas?

Line them onto a baking tray or cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the freezer until frozen and then you can get rid of the board/tray and put the empanadas inside freezing bags and put back in the freezer again. You don't do this from the start because you'll end up with one big mess where all your hard work is sticking together and can't be separated without breaking!

For how long can I keep the spinach and mozzarella empanadas in the freezer?

You can keep for about 3 months.

Can the dough be frozen once we have cut out the discs for the empanadas?

Yes, off course! Just be super careful to put freezer plastic papers in between each disc so that they don't stick together. Just have in mind that what's been frozen once cannot go back in the freezer. So, whenever you decide to use the dough for making spinach and mozzarella empanadas (or any other kind of empanada!) is because you are going to eat them!

How long can I keep the empanadas discs in the freezer for?

You can keep them for about 3 months.

Overhead shot of the baked empanadas on a piece of parchment paper
Spinach & Mozzarella Empanadas
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Servings: 25 empanadas
Nutrition: 253 cal
Cuisine: Argentinian

Ingredients

Dough

  • Flour 1 kg
  • Butter unsalted 325 g
  • Salt 20 g
  • Water 350 g

Filling

  • Spinach cooked and drained 400 g
  • Olive Oil
  • Mozzarella 200 g
  • Bechamel 200 g
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg

Bechamel

  • Whole Milk 0.5 l
  • Butter 35 g
  • Flour 35 g
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg

Egg Wash

  • Eggs 1
  • Cream 1 tbsp
  • Salt 1 pinch

Procedure

  • Dough

  • 1. Mix the flour, salt and butter using the tip of your fingers until you obtain a breadcrumb consistency.
  • 2. Add the water and mix until the dough has come together.
  • 3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Bechamel

  • 1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and mix. Cook for 3 minutes.
  • 2. Pour in the milk whisking at the same time. Bring to a boil whisking from time to time.
  • 3. Cook for 2 more minutes whisking energetically. Season to taste.
  • 4. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside.
  • Filling

  • 1. Chop the spinach as thinly as you can. Cut the mozzarella into small cubes.
  • 2. Mix the bechamel, spinach and mozzarella. Rectify the seasoning if necessary.
  • 3. Transfer to a hermetic container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Assembly

  • 1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • 2. Prepare the egg wash: mix all the ingredients. Cover and set aside.
  • 3. Roll out the dough to 3-4 mm. Using a round cutter of 11 cm (or 12) cut the rounds.
  • 4. Fill each one with a generous spoonful of the spinach mixture at the center of the dough.
  • 5. Dip the tip of your finger in water and paint the border with it.
  • 6. Fold the empanada onto itself and make sure to seal the borders tightly together by pressing them against each other.
  • 7. Close the empanada: slightly fold the ends towards the inside, and then press the dough in four spots using you index and thumb.
  • 8. Place the empanadas on the baking tray lined with parchment paper living space between them.
  • 9. Using a brush paint the empanadas with one layer of egg wash.
  • 10. Bake for about 20 minutes. Until golden.
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