Earlier this week, my son asked me if he could watch football once he had finished his homework. My husband grew up with a family who is extremely passionate about college football, and inevitably our cross-country visits include at least one afternoon spent watching a game. Similarly, my dad loved sports, and during peak season we’d often spend Sunday afternoons with friends rooting for our favorite teams over my signature spinach dip and his famed chili. But the fact that my son knows football season starts this week is just mind-boggling, given that we are more casual fans than our extended family members.
Food and football go together like bread and butter, and since I’m a total foodie, you knew I’d be talking about my favorite game time foods! Simple dips and finger foods dominate the season, making it seamless for hosts to prepare and clean-up so they too can enjoy the celebrations. But very often those dishes are store-bought and I try to prepare homemade varieties whenever it is feasible.
Empanadas are one of our favorite appetizers and when we lived in LA, my husband and I would frequent a local Argentinian restaurant just so we could enjoy their homemade version. This simple dish has its origins in Latin America and is made by folding dough or bread around meat, cheese, vegetables, or even fruit. Empanadas can be baked or fried and I can attest to the fact that they’re typically always tastier when fried. But since I’m on a healthy eating kick, I thought I’d take a slightly healthier, gourmet twist on this traditional finger food.
- Empanada dough*
- 2 cups of frozen spinach thawed and drained
- 2 small leeks chopped
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 ounces of goat cheese
- 1 egg beaten
Prepare the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Preheat oven to 400 F
Sautee leeks and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent (do not allow to brown)
Add thawed spinach and spices and cook until thoroughly heated, approximately 5-10 minutes**
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
Add goat cheese and stir to combine
Roll out empanada dough and cut into 5 inch circles (do not roll the dough out too thin or the pastries will burst during baking)
Fill circles with approx 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling (do not over fill)
Brush a small amount of egg around the edge of the dough and seal with fingers
Use the tines of a fork to create crimped edges
Brush a small amount of egg over the top of each empanada
Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes or until empanadas are golden brown
Earlier this year, I made a spinach quiche with leeks and goat cheese that inspired this empanada recipe. Spinach and feta are a common empanada variety, but I often find that feta is too salty thus overwhelming this traditional pastry. Leeks make nearly everything taste delicious and goat cheese is a creamier, richer variety that goes well with spinach. And while part of the delight of eating an empanada is biting into crisply fried dough, I was surprised that I could achieve a nearly similar experience without the trans fats. The result was incredible!
To create the dough, I varied Martha Stewart’s empanada recipe slightly by using a 50:50 combination of wheat and white flours. Since wheat flour tends to be a little more difficult to work with, I recommend adding a small amount of cold water to the dough as you knead and prepare to roll it out. Achieving the right thickness can be a challenge, but erring on the side of thicker will ensure your pastries don’t burst during baking.
As mentioned in the recipe, be sure not to overfill the pastries so they stay sealed during the baking process.
All of the ingredients for this recipe were purchased at Walmart and right now, you’ll find everything you could possibly need for Game Time, including ready-prepped food items. Plus, if you see an item advertised for less at another store, simply alert Walmart and they will ensure you receive the lowest price.
What is your favorite dish to serve this season? I’d love to hear your recipe ideas!