Thursday, October 7, 2010

Easy Cilantro Lime Empanadas

Empanadas usually require a pastry-type dough to assemble, which is a huge road block for me; first, the added calories and fat and second, pastry dough is too time consuming for a week night dinner. So I got to thinking about filo dough and how it might be the missing link to an easy empanada meal.

Using filo dough for empanadas turned out to be a home run idea. It was fast, tasty and the cooked flaky layers of the dough were a big hit with the boys. As they gobbled up this dinner, I was feeling pretty smug about the fact that they were filled with black beans and butternut squash. Yes, my theory continues to be proven in our home: when foods are wrapped up, and unseen, the boys eat them up.

You might suffer from filo intimidation, but conquer your fears and know that filo is much easier to work with than you might imagine.

Easy Cilantro Lime Empanadas

1 package frozen filo, thawed (they usually come with two separate rolls, you will only need one)
1 -12 oz package frozen pureed butternut squash
1 - 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arizona Dreaming seasoning (a new Penzeys spice mixture, or you can use taco seasoning)
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the filo on a counter and cut it in half lengthwise and be sure to cover with a barely damp cloth when you are not working with it.

In a medium bowl, mix the squash, black beans, salt and seasoning. With a pastry blender or the back of a large fork, smash the mixture together, breaking up the beans a bit while you do so. Add the cream cheese, cilantro and lime, and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.

Take 2-3 sheets of the filo and place 2 tablespoons of the cilantro lime mixture at one end like this:

Fold in triangles, much like you would fold a flag, like this:

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat liner:

Brush with a bit of oil or spray with cooking spray. Repeat until the filling is gone.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until slightly browned.

Makes about 18.

Serve with sour cream, salsa and a touch more cilantro:

R liked these so much he was asking for more for a the next several days. I envision these as a good after-school snack as well...

Off to go buy more filo,


JerseyBaby said...

I'm so excited to try these!

sarah22277 said...

These were delicious, and the recipe came at the perfect time- I had just made a huge batch of black bean/butternut squash chili, and had a lot of leftovers. I added the lime juice and cilantro, then rolled it all up, and they turned out great!

Sweet Pea Chef said...

Thanks Sarah, I am so happy you enjoyed them!

Anonymous said...

What a brilliant idea. I love things wrapped in filo! So much easier than making dough.

Taara said...

Such a cute and good looking idea! Kids go crazy over and food that they can pick up in their hands, and making these empanadas kid sized is a great idea! Plus, getting them to eat such exotic food that looks plain on the outside is a wonderful way to introduce them to new flavors. Cooking for your kids is a great way to encourage healthy eating through family mealtime together. What about taking it a step further and having your kids help with the cooking, even just once a week?
I work with the Healthy Monday Campaigns, which just launched a new family dinner program. The Kids Cook Monday aims to encourage families to cook and eat together every Monday. Research shows that children from families who cook and eat together often are less likely to be obese, eat a more nutritious diet and get better grades in school (to see more on the benefits of family dinners, check out The Kids Cook Monday site
We are looking for family oriented blogs to take on the challenge and help us spread the word about The Kids Cook Monday, through weekly posts. If you’re interested in taking part by doing weekly The Kids Cook Monday posts on Sweet Peas and Pumpkins, please email me at


JerseyBaby said...

SPC, I made these tonight. My very first experience with phyllo, and it was a huge success! Thanks so much!

T8ermom said...

And thanks to JerseyBaby, I'm trying them tonite!