Spanish Tuna Empanadas

As opposed to fried empanadas popular in South America, Spanish empanadas are baked using an olive oil-based dough. Richly flavored, it is simply made by mixing oil and wine into the flour and requires no chilling before it is used, which allows it to roll out like a dream. These call for a 3-inch biscuit cutter to make appetizer sized pastries, but you can make them larger if you’d like to serve as a main course. I often freeze about half of the batch after they’re formed, making for an easy freezer meal on a busy weeknight.

Spanish Tuna Empanadas

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
As opposed to fried empanadas popular in South America, Spanish empanadas are baked using an olive oil-based dough. Richly flavored, it is simply made by mixing oil and wine into the flour and requires no chilling before it is used, which allows it to roll out like a dream. These call for a 3-inch biscuit cutter to make appetizer sized pastries, but you can make them larger if you'd like to serve as a main course. I often freeze about half of the batch after they're formed, making for an easy freezer meal on a busy weeknight.
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Servings 8

Ingredients
 

For the Dough:

  • 2 ½ cups (325 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup white wine

For the Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 14- ounce can diced tomatoes, or 1 pound fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, quartered
  • 10 ounces fresh tuna steak
  • 3 dates, chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • To make the dough by combining the flours and salt in a large bowl. Pour the wine and olive oil into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Switch to your hands and knead the dough in the bowl until the flour is fully moistened, then wrap it in plastic wrap and set aside while you prepare the filling.
  • For the filling, saute the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet for 8-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and cook for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes start to thicken. Stir in the smoked paprika, olives and dates, then add the whole piece or pieces of tuna. Cover and cook over medium heat, turning the tuna once, for about 12 minutes until the tuna is mostly cooked through.
  • Remove the tuna to a plate, keeping the pan with the sauce over low heat. When cool enough to handle, or using two forks, shred the tuna, leaving some small bite sized pieces, and return it to the pot. Stir and continue to cook just until the mixture is quite thick. It should not be watery at all, or the empanadas will be soggy. Taste and add more salt if needed, and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper. Let the filling cool slightly.
  • To assemble the empanadas, cut the dough in thirds and roll one piece out at a time on your work surface. It is quite oily, and should not need flour to keep it from sticking. Roll it thinly, about 1/8” if possible, then use a round 3” biscuit cutter to cut out circles. Use about a tablespoon of filling and place in the center of a round, then pinch the edges to seal. You can crimp them decoratively if you like, or just pinch them closed. Place the empanadas on a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat until you have used all the filling and dough. At this point you can freeze the empanadas to be baked later, or refrigerate for 2 hours before baking.
  • When ready to bake, heat your oven to 375 F. Bake the empanadas for 20 minutes, and serve warm.

Notes

You can make these any size you like, and if you don’t have a large round cutter, its okay to use a knife to cut rounds shapes and be a little more rustic in the presentation. Larger sizes would be more appropriate for dinner sized servings, while the 3” cutter will produce smaller ones that would be great for hors d’oeuvres. These can be assembled and placed on the parchment lined baking sheet, then frozen. After they are totally frozen, store in a freezer gallon sized bag. Simply add 10 minutes onto the cooking time if cooking them directly from the freezer.
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