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Plantain and Black Bean Empanadas

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For the last three weeks, I’ve eaten nothing but pizza and quesadillas. I won’t even bore you with reasons or excuses. It was just all pretty pathetic.

Last week, I tried to break the cycle. I had a bunch of carrots in my refrigerator, and I figured that a plate of carrot gnocchi would be just the ticket to get back my kitchen groove. Two hours later, I was covered in flour, picking bits of carrots out my hair, and dialing my new best friend the pizza delivery guy. It really was that bad.   

I had no other choice but to escape. There is nothing like a good vacation. 

When I returned, I was fully recharged and ready for some home cooking. 

Plantains are one of my favorite comfort foods. I ate them all though college, and I knew they’d help me segue back into the kitchen.  

Sweet plantains look like overripe, big bananas. Usually, the blacker they are, the sweeter they are, so be fearless when selecting a few from the supermarket. They make a great filling for empanadas, especially when mixed with black beans (cooked chicken also works well).  

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You can find empanada shells in the frozen food section of your supermarket. Make sure they are fully defrosted and soft enough to bend and fold before you start working with them. 

This recipe makes a lot of empanadas, so freeze your leftovers in batches for another day. 

Ingredients (makes 20 small empanadas):

  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 1 onion
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • 1 10-disc pack of frozen empanada shells
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • sour cream, for serving

Make the empanadas:

Take out the empanada shells from the freezer. 

Cut the ends off of each plantain and slice the peel lengthwise from end to end. Remove the peels from the plantains and cut into 1 - 2 inch pieces. Roughly chop and onion.

Cook the plantain and the onion in a covered pot of water over medium heat for about half an hour, until the vegetables are soft. Drain the vegetables, and then return them back to the pot.

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Drain the black beans from the can and rinse well. Add the beans to the vegetables, and mash using a fork or potato masher. Add the cumin and grated cheese and stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

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Remove an empanada shell from the packet and cut it in half. You will have two semicircles. Spoon 1 - 2 tablespoons of the vegetable-bean mixture onto one side of the semicircle and then fold the dough over so that it almost resembles a triangle.

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You may need to stretch the dough a little as you are folding it over so that all of the filling is covered by the dough. Press down along the edges with a fork to seal in the filling, and place the empanada onto a baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining empanada shells until you have 20 empanadas on a baking sheet.   

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Pour the olive oil over the empanadas and toss gently so that the empanadas are coated in the oil and evenly distributed on the pan. Bake the empanadas at 400 degrees for thirty minutes. Turn each empanada over and cook for an additional fifteen to twenty minutes, until the empanadas are golden brown. Serve with sour cream, and freeze whatever you don’t eat tonight for another day.

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