Flourless Plantain Empanadas just made dinner mobile (and tasty AF).
After hours of working with plantains to craft my favorite tortillas, I started dreaming up all the other ways I could use the smooth, pliable dough that a boiled and blended plantain makes. Of course, I’ve seen a few other recipes online that take advantage of one ingredient plantain dough, so I knew it would be a success.
Instead of trying to dream up a new flavor combo, I went the traditional route—a simple savory ground beef empanada filling.
At the beginning of the year, I had a goal to post at least 1 recipe a week. I figured it was totally doable since literally all I do most weekends is test out new recipes and play with my camera. Most weeks I test multiple recipes so I can get ahead, which makes retesting and reshooting in subsequent weeks way less stressful.
But last week I didn’t post a recipe. Whomp whomp (that’s a sad trombone noise, for those that didn’t know). With all the extra work I do during the CrossFit Open and a sinus infection that reared its ugly head, I simply fell behind. I guess I could have tried to power through…but frankly, my physical and mental health come first for me.
So I pushed the schedule back a little big. No big deal!
I think these little guys are worth the wait. Using plantains as the dough, these empanadas aren’t exactly the flaky handheld meat pies they’re modeled after. Still, they’re gluten free, paleo, nut free…the list goes on.
The plantain dough can be a little hard to work with, but if you’ve already mastered the stovetop plantain tortillas I posted a month or so ago, it won’t be a problem for you at all. Like many things in life, it just takes a little practice, patience, and experience.
You may end up with extra filling. It depends on how thin you roll out the dough (just don’t roll it out too thin!) and how much you’re able to stuff into each empanada. Luckily the filling tastes great on its own! Or mix it into scrambled eggs for a quick breakfast.
This recipe makes quite a few empanadas, and I think they’re best eaten warm right out of the oven. Plantain dough isn’t great when it’s cold. If you have leftovers, your best bet is to heat them up for a few minutes in the oven before serving.
Oh, and don’t forget to serve these with salsa or chimichurri or chipotle lime mayo…these plantain empanadas are begging to get dunked into a flavorful dip!
Flourless Plantain Empanadas
Flourless Plantain Empanadas
- 4 green plantains
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- First, make the empanada filling. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is no longer pink. Transfer the ground beef to a bowl and drain excess grease.
- In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, onion, cloves, and olives. Cook for 10 minutes until veggies have softened. Add the tomato paste and apple cider vinegar, stirring to incorporate. Finally, add the beef, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Now make the empanada dough. Cut the ends of the plantains and slice the peel vertically down the length of the plantain (this makes it easier to peel them later). Slice the plantain horizontally into 4-5 large chunks. Set a large pot of water over high heat and add plantains. Bring to a boil, cooking for about 15 minutes until the flesh of the plantains can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Drain the plantains. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, remove the peels (they should come off easily now) and drop into a blender with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Blend on medium speed until the plantains come together in a ball of dough.
- The dough will be very sticky. The best way to roll it out is between two sheets of plastic from a zip-top bag (like Ziploc)—it tends to stick to everything else (see notes for additional help). Divide the dough into 4-5 portions. One at a time, place a portion of dough between two sheets of a zip-top bag and use a rolling pin to flatten it out to about 1/2 - 1 inch thickness. Use a wide-mouth jar to cut out circles from the dough. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough. Alternatively, if you don’t mind that imperfect circles, you can roll out circles of dough one at a time. One large spoonful of dough is enough dough for one empanada. Lay the dough circles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Add a heaping spoonful of empanada filling to one side of the dough circles. Fold the dough over and carefully close the crease. You can use your fingers or a fork for this. Repeat these steps until you’re out of dough.
- Lightly brush each empanada with the beaten egg. Put in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
If your plantain dough is still too sticky and giving you trouble, you can sprinkle a light dusting of arrowroot powder on the plastic or on parchment paper and use that as a surface to roll out the dough. In my experience, the dough doesn't crisp up as nicely when you use arrowroot to roll it out, though.