Empanadillas are the must-haves snack food when you hold a party in Spain. Sandra Piddock shares her favorite tuna empanadillas recipe.
Pies and pastry don’t figure much in the Mediterranean diet, as you may have noticed. After all, pies are comfort food, aren’t they? Tucking into a huge wodge of meat and pastry when it’s hot out sounds more like uncomfortable food to me!
However, as with all rules, there is usually an exception that proves it, and this is where empanadillas come in. ‘Empana-what?’ I hear you ask. Read on to learn of yet another wonderful Spanish invention.
In the supermarket or bakery, you may spot something that looks like a miniature Cornish Pasty. This is an empanadilla and, if you haven’t tried them before, you’re in for a treat.
Empanadillas can be eaten as tapas or a snack. Larger ones make a tasty main meal served with a large fresh salad. They can be baked, but the authentic Spanish method is to deep fry them, rather like Indian samosas or Oriental spring rolls. Ovens did not form part of the traditional Spanish kitchen, and the best Spanish recipes are the traditional ones.
Empanadillas can be filled with anything and everything, much like English pies, but the most popular fillings are spinach, (espinaca) – one of the few Spanish foods designed with vegetarians in mind – and tuna (atun).
In northern Spain, you will find empanadillas filled with chicken, rabbit, sardines, eels, rabbit, beef, or pork.
The below recipe is for tuna empanadillas, but experiment to find your own favorites. Any leftover filling can be mixed with mayonnaise and spread on crusty bread for a tasty snack. This is my favorite recipe, of all the hundreds out there. Buen apetito!
Recipe for tuna empanadillas (makes about 15)
- 135 grm plain flour
- 50 grm butter or margarine
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 50 ml white wine
- ½ small onion, chopped
- 100 grm tuna, flaked
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
- Large tomato, chopped, or use 2 tbsps tomato sauce or tomato Frito (puree)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh or freeze dried parsley
- 1 tbsp lemon juice + zest
- Pinch paprika
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil for cooking filling, plus oil for frying prepared empanadillas
Mix salt into flour and rub in butter as for shortcrust pastry. Work wine into mixture to make a dough, using a little water if necessary. Knead lightly, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for two hours.
Soften onion in oil and add garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add tomato, lemon juice and zest. Cook for 3 minutes, then mix in paprika, parsley, and egg. Allow to cool.
Roll out pastry thinly, cutting into 3” diameter rounds with a cutter or glass, or you can buy a special empanadilla cutter from the Ferreteria (Hardware store) or the market. Place 1 tsp or so of mixture in the center of each round, then fold in half, expelling the air and crimping with a fork. Deep fry in hot oil for about 3 minutes, turning when they rise to the top. Enjoy hot or cold.
For more recipes and ideas, visit Sandra Piddock’s website, Simply Spanish Food.