Tag Archives: puff pastry

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…

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

27 Feb

I’m sorry for leaving you a bit in the dark for a few weeks…

I was just away on back-to-back trips – one for business to Houston and one for a skiing vacation in Vermont.  During both trips and also the time in between I was so busy I just was not inspired to write…  but I was inspired to eat and cook.  So I collected and photographed a bunch of recipes I made or ate during that period and here you’ll have them all.

This is something I made for lunch a few weeks back.  You know when you learn about a new recipe, something that just entices you in such a way that your mouth salivates… and then you realize that you have ALL the ingredients available at home.  It was a beautiful moment…    This is based on Ina Garten’s recipe for Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts.  I saw it on Food Network and the next day I had it for lunch.

But I have to be completely honest; this recipe has a little bit of not-so-good karma attached to it…  It’s made with refrigerated puff pastry, something I do not use often, but I do from time-to-time and I have never been able to find it in a whole-grain or whole-wheat version.  So, this is a sporadic treat… if any of you is able to find whole wheat puff pastry – let me know where I can get it…




1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
1 onion, sliced
A drizzle of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A squirt of apple cider vinegar
The leaves of 2 small sprigs of thyme
3 tbs of Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 ounces of garlic and herb soft goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces
2 slices of the best tomato you can find, the larger the tomato the better
8-10 slivers of Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 F.  I use my toaster oven for this…
  2. Heat a small drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic.  Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the onions are soft and cooked, but not browned.  Add salt, pepper the apple cider vinegar, thyme and cook for a few minutes longer until the onions have absorbed the vinegar.
  3. While the onions are cooking, prepare the puff pastry.  You need to leave it defrosting in your fridge overnight to be able to handle it now.  Unfold one of the two sheets that come in the package – do this carefully as the pastry can tear easily.  Unfold it onto a lightly floured surface.  With a rolling pin, roll the pastry so yo can fit 2 saucer plates inside it. Using the saucer plate, cut out 2 rounds of pastry, and set onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I can fit these two in the baking tray of my toaster oven.
  4. Using a small paring knife, score the puff pastry rounds with a 1/4″ border.  Prick the inside of the circle border with a fork.  Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese within the scored circle. 
  5. preparing-tomato-tart
  6. You will now divide all the remaining ingredients and place within the scored circle of each tart shell…  Place the cooked onions on top of the Parmesan cheese, add the crumbled goat cheese on top of the onions and then place the tomato slice on top of the goat cheese.  Now drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the tomato and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a few extra thyme leaves.  Using a vegetable peeler, slice a few thin slices of Pecorino Romano cheese and place on top of the tomato slice.
  7. preparing-tomato-tart-2
  8. Bake in the oven for about 18 minutes.  When you see the puff pastry has a nice, golden color just turn off the oven and leave it inside there for a few minutes.


Serve this with a nice green salad for a spectacular, very Provençal  lunch.  This would work great for a gathering with friends because it’s so simple and quick to make. And not to mention DELICIOUS!!!


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