Empanadas are filled pies that are found in Spanish and Latin American cuisines. They are typically filled with meat or seafood but sometimes contain vegetables instead. This unusual version comes from Mollie Katzen's "Still Life with Menu Cookbook." Although the recipe calls for only a few basic ingredients, the results are anything but ordinary. The sweet flavor from the bananas pairs surprisingly well with the creamy, salty jack cheese. For me, these should only be served with green salsa; the mild spiciness of green chilies and the tartness of tomatillos are the perfect complement. I like to serve 2 to 3 empanadas per person as a vegetarian main course, but you could also easily turn this into an appetizer by making the empanadas smaller and setting them out on a large party tray.
Banana-Cheese Empanadas
Cuban Black Bean Soup
Salad of Romaine Hearts, Oranges Wedges, Avocado and Red Onion
Mexican Beers


1-3/4 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 medium banana, firm but ripe (not mushy)
1/4 pound jack cheese, cut into small thin slices
2 tablespoons melted butter
mild or medium green salsa

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the water and stir until mostly combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and knead each one into a small ball. Set the balls aside.

Peel the banana and cut it crosswise into quarters. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise so that you have 8 pieces. Roll out each ball of dough into a circle approximately 5 inches in diameter. Place a couple of small cheese slices near the center. Cut one of the banana pieces into smaller strips and place on top of the cheese. Lightly brush the edges of the dough with water, and fold the dough over the filling. Crimp the edges securely with a fork making sure that all of the filling is tightly encased in the dough (If cheese creeps out during baking, it will burn.) Repeat until you have 8 completed empanadas.

Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter and arrange the empanadas on the sheet. Brush the tops thoroughly with melted butter, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with green salsa on the side.

Makes 2 to 4 servings



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As an alternative to baking, you can actually pan-fry these empanadas. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat and cook 4 of the empanadas for 5 minutes on each side. Repeat for the remaining 4 empanadas using the last tablespoon of butter.

You can make the dough several days ahead of time, storing it tightly-wrapped in the refrigerator. You can even assemble the empanadas a day ahead if you wish. Store in the refrigerator spaced apart on a floured baking sheets, wrapped tightly in plastic.

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