Tag Archives: onions

Galician Empanada

9 Jul

During my trip to Spain, Walter and I visited the north of Spain – San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander – mostly part of Basque Country.  I was a little apprehensive at first because even though I have always heard it is super beautiful, the Basque Country does not have the best reputation of safety. 

I am here to attest that I never, ever felt unsafe while traveling in the Basque Country of Spain. The coast of the Cantabric Sea is beautiful and is something that needs to be enjoyed and visited by all.  We wish we had more time to stay and visit with even more leisure than we actually did.

San Sebastian 2      Santander Bilbao

One of the fascinating things about this region is it’s in the path of the Camino de Santiago – the Saint James Trail.  The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage made by the followers and believers of St. James.  People walk from Roncesvalles in Navarra to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia to visit and honor the remains of the Apostle St. James, buried at the Cathedral.  People take about 1 month to walk the whole trail, about 800kms, staying in posadas or places specially designated for the pilgrims. 

Walter and I were taken by the Camino and its pilgrims.  The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino and you can see tiles marking the way in many of the cities we visited.  Partly because of the religious significance and partly because the adventure and our love for Spain and travel, Walter and I decided we would definitely make the Camino de Santiago, specially on a Holy Compostellan Year , which is whenever July 25 falls on a Sunday.  I just learned this will be NEXT YEAR, in 2010. 

Camino SAntiago 1    Camino SAntiago 2   Camino Santiago 3

On this year, I was told you’re given a “passport” that is stamped at several intervals to testify you’re indeed a pilgrim doing the trail.  When you arrive at the Cathedral in Santiago, you get the final stamp and your country of origin is mentioned during the daily mass at noon to bless and celebrate the pilgrims.  I really want to do that!!!!

And what does this have to do with food, you might be asking yourself?  Isn’t this a blog about vegetarian food???  

When watching my other favorite Spanish cooking and traveling show, Spain on the Road Again with Mario Batali and Gwenyth Paltrow, they mentioned how these Empanadas Gallegas were super popular by the pilgrims because they are very portable, they are very nutritious, they keep well without refrigeration and best of all delicious.  I just have always seen them in the Spanish panaderías here in Puerto Rico since forever, but have not had one in many years because they’re made mostly with tuna or chorizo…

So in honor of our upcoming trip to the Camino de Santiago, here’s my interpretation of an Empanada Gallega…


 Empanada Gallega


1 sheet of puffed pastry, thawed on the counter for 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
About ½ cup of TuNo soy-based product
1 tsp of tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
About 3 tbs of white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp of Spanish pimentón
 5-6 Spanish olives stuffed with pimientos – sliced
1 bay leaf
Spanish Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
About 1 tbs of whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tbs of buttermilk or butter
Some bench flour – whole wheat preferably…


  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.  Add the bay leaf to season.
  3. Add the crumbled pieces of TuNo and let it cook all together.  TuNo usually comes frozen, but you will not need to defrost it for this application.  Just let it defrost and melt in the pan with the onions. 
  4. Add the tomato paste, pimentón and the vinegar to the pan and let it combine well.  Add the olives and season with salt and pepper.  Let it cook for a few minutes and turn the stove off.  Set it aside to cool off for while you work with the dough.
  5. I cover the baking sheet of my toaster oven using a layer of aluminum foil and then parchment to ease up on the cleaning. 
  6. The puffed pastry usually comes folded in thirds, I don’t even bother to unfold it… dust it with a little bit of whole-wheat flour, cut it into two halves and flatten it out using a rolling pin.  Roll the two halves of puff pastry one a bit larger than the other… Place the larger half onto the baking sheet lined with parchment. 
  7. Add the breadcrumbs to the onion/TuNo mixture and remove the bay leaf.  Transfer the 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. 
  8. Empanada Gallega - Relleno
  9. Cover the filling with the smaller layer of rolled pastry.  Bring the edges of the puff pastry together folding one onto the other and securing by pinching with the tines of a fork.
  10. Brush the top layer of pastry with the melted butter or buttermilk, whichever you have on hand.  Make 2 slits on the top for the steam to escape.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and smells delicious.
  12. Take it out of the oven carefully and out of the baking sheet to cool off a bit into a cutting board.

   I just hope we can find a vegetarian version of this empanada like this along the Santiago Trail… what do you think??


Empanada Gallega 1

Getting a peak inside the filling…  yum!

Caramelized Onions Fettuccini

22 Mar

This recipe was inspired by Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine December 2008 issue… 


This issue had a section that highlighted pantry staples and how they can shine and help you in many quick weekday dishes.  This recipe highlighted onions and I already has a batch of caramelized onions in the fridge from making my French Onion dip, so I decided to give this recipe a try.

I switched things a bit to accommodate what I had in MY pantry at the time, so this is my very own version of…



¼ pack of whole-grain fettuccini
2 tbs of butter
1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese
Half of this caramelized onion recipe
Salt and Pepper to taste, optional


  1. Boil pasta according to package directions in a big pot with boiling salted water.
  2. When pasta is done, drain the pasta while reserving 1 cup of the water used to boil.  Return the pasta to the pot, add the butter and caramelized onions.  Mix well to combine and to warm up the onions if they were refrigerated.
  3. Add some of the pasta water to loosen the mix and create a “sauce”.  Add half of the cheese and continue combining it all. Continue adding pasta water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency… mine is that all the pasta is lightly coated with a medium thickness sauce.  Add some additional salt or pepper according to your taste… you might not even need to add anything else.
  4. Plate and sprinkle the remaining cheese onto your plated pasta.


If you do the onions ahead of time, this recipe will take you about the time it takes to boil the pasta… if you make the onions for this dish in particular, it should be ready in approximately 40 minutes according to Everyday Food. 

Make a large batch of the onions and see how many recipes you can incorporate them in… I can give you some others besides this one already:

French Onion Soup

French Quesadillas

Stuffed Brie

Stuffed Baked Brie

18 Mar

The other night we got together to watch the French film La faute à Fidel…  a very nice film showed in a French film festival recently at the University of Puerto Rico.  I was not able to attend the original showing, so my friend Laura’s mother, who’s a film buff and loves to buy films, lent it to us for a night of French movies and of course, French food…

I’ve been meaning to make a different version of the Camembert Chaud at the Bistro de Paris restaurant we love so much… where they take a round of camembert cheese, take the top off and warm it up in the oven and serve with French bread toasts, walnuts and sour apples.

I wanted to see if I could challenge myself and work with some phyllo dough I had bought and was always afraid of using.  I always do that, I like things at the market, but then leave them in the fridge or the pantry and do not use them immediately.   I built myself some courage and this is what turned out…




A 4.5 ounce round of Brie cheese
2 tbs of guava jelly
1 ½ tbs toasted walnuts, cut into small pieces
2 tbs caramelized onions – recipe here
4 sheets of whole-wheat phyllo dough – defrosted
4 tbs of butter, melted
Canola spray


  1. Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  Spray with canola oil.
  2. Take one piece of the phyllo dough and place on top of baking sheet.  Brush lightly but evenly with melted butter using a pastry brush.  Place the second sheet of phyllo crosswise, perpendicular to the first sheet.  Brush again with the melted butter.  Place the third sheet of phyllo diagonal to the frist two, as if covering the spaces left open by the first “cross”.  Brush again with melted butter and place the fourth and last phyllo sheet perpendicular to the 3rd sheet, therefore creating another cross with the sheets.  Spread  the last sheet with the remaining butter.
  3. Cut the brie cheese into two halves, creating a top and a bottom half.  We’ll be making a “sandwich” using the two brie halves.
  4. brie-relleno-por-dentro
  5. Place the bottom half of the cheese in the middle or the phyllo sheet stack.  Spread the caramelized onions on on top of the brie half.  Now, spread the guava jelly on top of the onions.  Place the walnuts pieces on top of the guava jelly. And now top everything off with the remaining half of brie cheese.  It may get a bit messy, but it’s all good.
  6. brie-relleno-antes-de-cerrar
  7. Now you’ll start wrapping the brie with the phyllo… take one section and fold it over the cheese.  Now try enveloping the cheese with another side… you’ll see you’ll have a lot of phyllo left over that you won’t know what to do with it.  Just take it all and gather it on top of the cheese like making a bun…  I just could not take pictures of this because my hands were so messy with melted butter.
  8. Place the stuffed brie in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set a bit… 
  9. After 15 minutes have passed, pre-heat the oven to 450 F.  When the oven is ready, bake the brie covered with a piece of parchment with a foil paper on top for about 10 minutes.  Then take off the parchment/foil covering and let the phyllo get golden brown.
  10. Take out of the oven and wait about 2-3 minutes for the cheese inside to adjust to the temperature and cut and serve immediately after.  We served them with water crackers and apple slices.



We loved the mixture of the tangy brie with the sweet guava jelly and onions.  But I had a few mishaps and I want you to learn from my mistakes.  So here are some tips when making this Stuffed Brie:

  • Use the same baking sheet where you’ll bake the brie to set it up.  I transferred the brie from that baking sheet to something smaller to put it in the fridge and I almost lost the entire bottom when transferring it back to the baking sheet to bake.
  • The temperature of the oven is important… if the temperature is not that high, your phyllo dough takes longer to cook and get golden and might give your jelly an opportunity to seep out. 
  • This is not a good dish to assemble at home and transfer somewhere else to bake…  I suggest you assemble and bake in the same premises.  I have not tried yet the bake first and then transfer and reheat… if you do, let me know if it works better.


Hope you love it as much as we did…

Corn Tostada Stacks

6 May

With the celebration of 5 de Mayo, I’ve been feeling like I should indulge in some Mexican food.

I bought a stack of white corn tortillas.  This stack is a testament of the size of typical Mexican families, because this will definitely last me for weeks, if not months.  This stack is huge!!!!  I have not counted them, but my guess is it has about 40-50 corn tortillas.  We need to start using them in multiples…

Inspired by a Simply Delicioso show I saw on the Food Network, I decided to create a stack of these tortillas, that when fried, they are magically transformed into Tostadas.

This is what I did…




2 white corn tortillas
1 potato, boiled
1 tbs cream cheese
½ onion, sliced
½ green bell pepper, sliced
1 garlic clove, grated
2-3 tbs Mexican salsa
2 lettuce leaves – I used romaine , washed well and sliced thinly
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbs canola oil, to fry the tortillas
1 tbs sour cream, to garnish on top


  1. In a small skillet, heat the oil at medium high heat.   When the oil is smoking hot, fry one tortilla at a time.  They’ll take about 2-3 minutes on each side, until the tortilla is slightly golden and crispy.  Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt as they come out of the skillet.
  2. While you’re frying these tortillas, mash the boiled potato with the cream cheese and a bit of salt.  If you find the potato too stiff, add a tab bit of olive oil to soften.  Set aside.
  3. After you’ve finished frying the tortillas, sauté the onions and peppers in the same skillet.  Why dirty another pot?  Add some salt and pepper to season and to soften.  Add the grated garlic clove to season.  When the onion/peppers are soft take them away from the heat and set aside.

Now we assemble…

4.  Place one tostada on the bottom of your plate.  Spread the mashed potato mixture, spoon some salsa, spoon the onions and peppers, sprinkle the shredded lettuce and top off with the tostada you have left.

5.  Spoon some extra salsa on top and garnish with some sour cream…  I did not have any on hand when I did this, so that’s why it’s missing from the picture.  But I know it will add something good and delicious to the mix.


I am sure you can continue adding layers of goodness to this… how about a layer of corn and bean salsa or some fresh tomatoes, or even some saucy stewed soy protein (so it looks like ground beef)…  the possibilities are endless.

¡Viva México Lindo y Querido!

Sauteed Corn with Onions

19 Feb

I am in a use-up mode.  I told myself I was not returning to the supermarket until I have used up most of what I have on hand right now.

Has this happened to you?  That you eat mostly the same  – day-in day-out  – and you keep leaving in the pantry or the fridge stuff you bought at some point but can’t seem to get to cook it now.  That’s the worst kind of waste… when you need to throw stuff out because you didn’t get to prepare it.  I need to change my ways and put a stop to that!!!!

So I looked in my freezer and I found a bag of frozen corn…  what to do with it???  I started to improvise and this is what came about…



 1 cup frozen corn – I am sure that this would work with fresh corn too
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 onion – sliced
2 tbs crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce – I used Tomates Fritos from Viter with a little crushed tomatoes I had leftover.
Garlic Salt to taste
  1. Pour olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Pour in the frozen corn and the onions and stir to coat with the olive oil.  Cover so the steam generated cooks and soften the corn and onions.
  2. About 5-10 minutes later, pour in the crushed tomatoes and season with garlic salt. 
  3. Sautee for a few minutes more until the corn is thoroughly cooked.
  4. Serve warm.

I was completely surprised on how good this tasted.  It was a step up from boiled corn with a little butter.  The gamble paid off.  I hope you like it too.  I served this originally with my Creamy Potatoes.  And later on served it as part of this salad…

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