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Making Empanadas Using Foraged Greens

ready to bake

My husband and I had been out of town for a few days, and with a sparse pantry, there seemed to be few options for dinner when we finally got home. However, we were determined not to go out to eat out again — our stomachs needed a break with some clean, homemade food. And so, with 10 minutes of foraging and a little ingenuity, we came up with this recipe for these savory, leafy-green-packed empanadas. It has since become a favorite.

This recipe features wild dandelion greens and wild spinach and lamb’s quarters, though any domestic or foraged green could probably work. I made this recipe specifically for these "weeds", because they grow so readily in our yard. We encourage their peaceful takeover of our lawn and enjoy eating them all summer long.

For the inexperienced forager, you can't pick a more amiable set of plants — they’re super easy to identify (so there’s little risk of mixing them up with something less edible!), and you can get some good pointers from the myriad of  of posts on Mother Earth News about locating and harvesting dandelion greens and wild spinach. If you give them a chance, I’m confident you can enjoy them as much as we do.

Wild Greens Empanadas Recipe

Time needed: 15 minutes foraging in a good spot, 35 minutes active, 1 hour baking

Ingredients:

Crust: (makes enough for 2 dinner-sized pies)

• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 3 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/3 cup warm water
• Herbs (optional: I enjoy throwing in dill or oregano)

Filling:

• As many dandelion greens and wild spinach leaves (be sure to remove the tough center stalk of the mature plant) as you can fit into a large fry pan.  For me, this is roughly two full handfuls
• 1 onion, sliced
• 2 large carrots, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, diced
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
• ¼ cup milk (can be cow, goat, or plant)

Flavor options:

• Try: diced ginger, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp rice wine, squeeze of lime, dash of sugar
• Or maybe: Oregano, marjoram, rosemary, basil, parsley
• What about: Dill, cumin, and whatever cheese you have on hand

 IMG_3951

Directions:

1. First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Make the crust. Combine the flour, herbs, salt, and oil in a small bowl. Crumble the ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand, then add the water.

IMG_3952

3. Continue mixing and kneading with your hand in the bowl until it comes together into a smooth ball. Cover and set aside for now.

4. Prepare filling. Carefully clean your foraged greens, being sure to separate the spinach leaves from the tough center stalk (be sure to compost it). Rinse them in a colander under cold running water. 

5. Chop the onion, carrot, and garlic. Chop the dandelion greens coarsely (the center rib can get stringy in later-season plants).

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6. Heat some olive or peanut oil in a large skillet or wok, then add everything but the greens. After the onions are translucent and fragrant, you can throw in your greens and cook until they have wilted down a bit. Add the seasonings of your choice, taste, and adjust accordingly. Then, turn off the heat and mix in the four and milk. Set aside for a moment.

7. Lightly flour a clean surface and divide your dough into two equal portions. Roll them, individually, into rounds that are about 8 to 9 inches in diameter and roughly 1/4-inch thick. Spoon half of the vegetable mixture into each round, then fold in half, turnover-style and crimp the edges shut.

8. Place on an un-greased baking pan (or side-by-side in a pie pan if you don't mind them touching!) and cut some vent holes in each pie. Bake until the surface of the crust is nicely browned, about 50 minutes to an hour.

They can either be served piping hot out of the oven, or allowed to cool to room temperature. We really enjoy eating ours with hot sauce!

Andrew and Michelle Shall run Shuv Naturals and Studio Shuv, a handcrafted soap, art, and recycled good business out of their home in Akron, Ohio. Find them online at Simple Life Homestead, and read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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