Spinach Puffed Empanada

9 May

I visit the Serious Eats website almost daily… I love it as a source of news and inspiration in regards to food. 

They just recently launched this series of Weekend Cook and Tell where they scour the various food sections of national newspapers to find an article or recipe to inspire a weekend cooking project.  This weekend’s project is to make a great weekend meal by cleaning out your pantry.  They were inspired by an article in the Chicago Sun-Times  about making meals out of whatever you have on hand.

I am pretty anal-retentive about having a tidy fridge and lately I have not been able to keep it as organized and tidy as I would like.  So I am on a rampage of using up everything in my fridge and to liberate it as much as possible.  So you would think why I was so drawn to this project…  I actually went to the market today and I did not use up anything that entered the house today… all of the ingredients have been in the house for at least a week.

I actually used a bunch of stuff I had mostly in my fridge and freezer… and not new things I had; I used up stuff I had bit and pieces, like:

  • ¼ bag of frozen cut-leaf spinach – I don’t know how long this was in there because I was using another bag and moving thing around this morning I found this other bag…
  • 1 2-inch piece of leftover gruyere cheese – left over from making Popeye Pita Pizzas and the Cauliflower and Cheese Mac
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry – left over from a get-together I had last Saturday where I made Spinach Pinwheels that got too soft and fused together and re-froze because I did not know what to do with it at the time…
  • ½ onion – left over from making a batch of my Veggie Dip
  • 1 scallion – left from making a Green Goddess dressing for a friend
  • toasted pepitas – leftover from my Mexican Lasagna recipe
  • breadcrumbs I made a few months ago from bread that got too hard for a sandwich

 The results were spectacular…  I was inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten in her Barefoot in Paris book.  When I read the recipe I realized I had all the most important ingredients in my pantry to recreate it. 


 Spinach Empanada 4


1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted for only 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge
About 1 ½ cups of frozen cut-leaf spinach, thawed and as much water squeezed our as possible
About ½ cup gruyere cheese, grated
About ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
½ medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs olive oil
1 scallion, sliced thin
About ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
About 2 tbs whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs butter, melted
Whole-wheat flour – to work with the puff pastry


My apologies in regards to the amount of ingredients in this recipe… because my intention was to CLEAN THE FRIDGE, I really didn’t measure them when I was putting it together.  I just took what was left of the spinach, what was left of the gruyere, a few finger-fulls of breadcrumbs… and “played it by ear”/improvised.  I include a few photos so you can see how the mixture looked when put together…


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onions and garlic.  Sauté for a few minutes until the onions start to soften and become a bit translucent.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the spinach, scallions, onion mixture, gruyere and parmesan cheeses, breadcrumbs, pepitas.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach Filling

The puffed pastry usually comes folded in thirds, but I defrosted it at room temperature for over 40 minutes and it basically fused together and I was not able to open it up as you usually can.  So what I did was to dust it with a little bit of whole-wheat flour, cut it into two pieces and roll it out.  What’s puff pastry than layers and layers of pastry rolled together… so ours will have 3 extra layers than what the manufacturers intended… 

  1. I rolled the two halves of puff pastry one a bit larger than the other… you’ll see why later on.  I rolled it enough to fit the baking tray of my toaster oven.  I cover the baking sheet using a layer of aluminum foil and then parchment to ease up on the cleaning.
  2. Place the larger pastry half onto the baking sheet lined with parchment. 
  3. Transfer the spinach mixture carefully onto the puff pastry leaving about a ½ inch border all the way around.  Try to flatten the mixture a bit to make it an even layer. 
  4. SPinach Empanada 1
  5. Place the smaller layer on top of the spinach.  Bring the edges of the puff pastry together folding one onto the other and securing by pinching with the tines of a fork.
  6. Spinach Empanada 2
  7. Brush the top layer of pastry with the melted butter.  Make 3 slits on the top for the steam to escape.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and smells delicious.
  9. Take it out of the oven carefully and out of the baking sheet to cool off a bit into a cutting board.

Spinach Empanada 6 

Spinach Hole

I was so thrilled to make a large spinach “pastelillo”… served with a nice Salade des Haricots Verts, this made for a great light dinner. 

Spinach Empanada 5

And thanks to it… my freezer and fridge have a few less clutter than before.  This challenge came in with great timing…  I created a delicious meal I have never done before with ingredients I already had in my fridge.

I am sure I can come-up with a few extra of these; I’ll definitely keep you posted…

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