Not Just Tofu

Easy Vegetarian Empanadas

In Appetizers, Editorial, Englewood, Local Eats, meat substitutes, Recipe, Restaurant Experience on December 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Vegetarian Empanadas

Vegetarian Empanadas

I fell in love with Spanish food about 10 years ago.  Before then, my passion was Mexican food ranging from  simple tacos to enchiladas.  Some would say it was Tex-Mex but no it was really Mexican to the point I would hunt out authentic Mexican restaurants. Then one day, while walking down Palisade Avenue, I glimpsed into Fonda de Paisa , a Columbian restaurant.  Curious I went in and ordered their $6.00 special which was a meat, rice, beans or soup and salad with friend plantain   I was shocked that they were offering real knife and fork  food for less than a burger combo meal at the local fast food restaurants down the street.  Finally I had discovered a better alternative than eating fast food for lunch.  As I was checking out, I saw the empanadas and bought one for only$1.  For those of you who don’t know what an empanada is, they are a small turnovers that can be filled with beef, chicken or cheese  and usually deep fried.  In Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and places like Costa Rica and Panama they are call pastelillos often made with ground beef and raisins.  Being the person that I am, I decided to imitate a healthier version for vegetarians.  The following recipe is what I came up.


  • 1 Package of thawed  pre-made empanada skins (Goya)
  • 2 cups or re-hydrated TVP or frozen soy crumbles
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons of  defrosted sofrito
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of Adobo (1/2 teaspoon if using frozen soy crumbles)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil for sauting
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • Spanish green olives, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of water

*Empanda Skins are the turnover dough already colored and cut into circles and sold in packages of 10 by companies like Goya.

*Sofrito is a blend of cilantro, onion and garlic with spices that can be bought frozen in the Spanish section of your freezer department.

Preparing the Filling

  1. Warm saute oil in a medium frying pan
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and saute for 2 minutes
  3. Mix in TVP or soy crumbles and heat thoroughly
  4. Season with taco seasoning and adobo, mix well
  5. Make a well in the filling mixture and spoon in sofrito and tomato paste
  6. Mix all ingredients together well in the pan, add 1/2 cup of water ( if it look dry, add another 1/2 cup)
  7. Stir in chopped olives and cover over medium-low heat for 10 minute
  8. Remove filling to cool for 15 minutes before filling the pastry

Preparing the Empanada

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  3. Take one empanada skin and fill 1 tablespoon of filling on one side of the circle
  4. Fold over the other half
  5. Crimp with fork
  6. Brush lightly with milk (soy milk for vegans)
  7. Bake for 10 -12 minutes until brown

Visit La Fonda de Paisa

95 West Palisade Avenue

Englewood, NJ 07631


taken by Louis M. on

taken by Louis M. on


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