Zucchini, Potato and Corn Empanada~ Daring Bakers’ September Challenge

When most of us think of empanadas, we imagine little sweet pastry parcels filled with luscious fruit, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a dollop of snowy white whipped cream. At least, this is what has been served up to us; from various South American and Mexican restaurants to fast food joints. When I was in the process of making these wonderful pies, even my children were surprised when I told them “empanadas.” It seems here in the US, the only empanadas we know well are the little ones, sometimes savoury but mostly sweet.

What a delightful discovery it was when I learnt that empanadas are not always little, and not always sweet; thanks to the Daring Bakers Challenge this month.

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our empanadas as creatively as we wished!

There are many kinds of empanadas with a myriad of sweet and savoury fillings that are served family style, that is; in the form of one big pie. The variety doesn’t stop with just the fillings. There are many variations of the pastry. The pastry shell can be a yeast dough, a cornmeal dough or a straight up pastry dough. I am sure by changing out the flour, we can get multigrain or even gluten free.

I chose to work with a yeast dough because I love yeast doughs. They are easy to work with and I always have the ingredients on hand. My filling was another “let’s look in the fridge and see what I’ve got” filling. It is an Indian style, squash, potato and sweet corn filling. Creamy and crunchy at the same time. The creaminess of the potatoes with the squash, is livened up by the crunchiness of fresh sweet corn. Some pleasant heat from some red cayenne powder and a fresh, homegrown cayenne ensures some excitement.






3 zucchini/courgettes, peeled and sliced thin
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed, medium
2 cups fresh corn (frozen ok)
1 onion, diced fine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Canola oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 green chilli
handful cilantro
salt and pepper

6 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 cups of warm water
3 teaspoons active, dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
egg for egg wash


Start by making the dough and leaving it aside to rise.
Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and leave aside.
Put the flour and salt into a bowl of a mixer and attach the dough hook.
Once the yeast is active and you see it frothy and foamy, add the olive oil.
Pour into the flour and start the mixer to make a dough.
Once the dough is nice and smooth, not too dry or wet, but elastic and smooth,
Put the ball of dough into an oiled bowl, cover and put aside to rise for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
In a fry pan or skillet, add the oil and heat on medium.
Add the onions and cook till soft and almost caramelised.
Add the garlic and ginger, and the spices.
Cook a little to heat up the spices a little.
Add the squash and potatoes.
Turn the vegetables around in the oil and spices till coated.
Add the water.
You can either cook the squash and potato on low, covered till the squash is very soft and the potato are cooked, about 20-30 minutes
Or cook in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes.
Cook down the mixture if there is too much liquid.
The mixture will thicken because of the potatoes, but you don’t want a runny mixture as a filling.
Add the corn and the green chilli.
Check for salt and pepper.
Add the cilantro.
Set aside to cool before rolling out and filling the empanada.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Prepare a pizza tray or baking sheet to bake empanada.
Once the dough has risen to double its size, it’s time to roll and fill.
Divide the ball of dough in half to make two smaller empanandas or make one big one with a thicker crust.
I made two with slightly thinner crusts, one with the spicy Indian filling and one with fresh, cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
Take one piece of the dough and divide in half again, one for the top crust and one for the bottom.
Roll out the dough into either a rectangle or a circular shape.
Place on the baking sheet.
Fill with the cooled filling.
Roll out the top crust and cover.

Seal the pie by twisting the dough around the edges in a decorative manner.
Cut a few slits on top and decorate with dough cutouts or rope designs.
Brush with the egg wash.
Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes, or till brown and crisp on top.


They were delicious and I have already had a request for more. 

The choice of fillings are endless and you can let your imagination run wild. I am probably going to try a sweet one next. I have an apple tree full of ripe fruit.

Hope you all have a great weekend!


  1. I wish I was as good as you are with yeast doughs. Somehow I always have trouble with yeast. =/

    I am new to empanadas and mexican cuisine. All this time I thought they were savory and super pungent, but I guess I was wrong. It looks absolutely delicious and since we love this kind of dishes, I am looking forward to recreat your recipe one of these days!
    helene dsouza recently posted..Comment on Baked Layered Polenta Casserole by JoanneMy Profile

    • I have heard that some people have a hard time with yeast doughs. For me they have been the easiest doughs. I struggled with pastry dough when I first started baking but after a few turns, no problem. Maybe you just need to practise. Also, weather always has a lot to do with dough failures and successes. I hope you have a go though Helene.

    • I wanted to spend a bit more time making it more beautiful but I had 4 hungry children who were impatiently tapping their fingers, feet etc for the food. I had to hurry up.

      It was very tasty though.

    • Thanks Nami! I know you can come up with a Japanese version! The kids enjoy it because it’s like pizza..stuffed crust 🙂

  2. My husband grew up in Chile and was given empanadas to eat all the time. And they were always savoury. He never had a dessert-style one. I love the look of your large version – so delicious with that yummy filling oozing out. I’d love one! xx
    hotlyspiced recently posted..The Specialty GenerationMy Profile

    • That’s so interesting to hear. He must’ve eaten lots of different and interesting things growing up. The large versions are easier to deal with than little individual ones.

  3. Oh wow, what a treat! I’ve had a LOT of sweet stuff recently and feel so much like gorging on savoury stuff. This looks fantastic, and … those flavours… cumin, turmeric, aaaah yeah 😀

    • As much as I love sweet stuff like pastries and cakes and such, I really also enjoy savoury things too. This was really good, kind of like an Indian stuffed pizza.

  4. It’s funny because I have always thought empanadas were savoury (but then Mexican cuisine is not very well known here). Your empanada looks absolutely gorgeous. I love the yeast pastry, it must be so much better than the corn flour pastry. The filling also sounds delicious. I am also one of those who like to spice dishes up quite often.
    Sissi recently posted..Plum, Prune and Chocolate JamMy Profile

    • In the US we only hear about about sweet. This was a nice change and making it Indian ended up being quite tasty.

  5. As I’m sure you know we don’t really eat empanadas here, well not regularly, so first I had to get my head round what they are! Fajitas are very popular but this looks much more interesting. I’m going to have to try both sweet and savoury. I love the thought of sweet crunchy corn popping in your mouth alongside the soft potato and zucchini. Thank you Nazneen. GG xx
    glamorous glutton recently posted..Game For EveryoneMy Profile

    • I guess we can call them pasties 😉 I am surprised though that we are not more familiar with them, considering Spain and Portugal have them. The best part was the corn in with the mushy stuff! Loved it.

    • Thank you Shelley! The filling was nice and spicy but what was wonderful was the crunchy fresh corn. I hope you try it out. Thanks for stopping by!