Corn & Black Bean Empanadas

For Christmas, my sister gave me the BEST vegetarian cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. It is truly an encyclopedia of cookbooks. Aside from recipes, there’s a wealth of information in the book, from equipment to techniques to how to improvise dishes (soup, cookies, and more). There are dozens and dozens of charts on topics ranging from 17 ingredients to add to any yeast bread; to a chart on apples with information on what different varieties look like, their flavor and texture, and what they’re good for; to a chart on grains, their cooking time, a description, and forms and varities. It’s just shy of 1,000 pages!

I made corn and black bean empanadas last night, based on recipes in this cookbook. One thing I really like about the cookbook is that Bittman provides you with the recipe for the outside of the empanadas, then gives you a ton of possibilities for how you could make the filling, referring you to numerous other recipes in the cookbook.



  • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra*
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal flour*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup-1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup-1/2 cup milk

*I would use less cornmeal flour next time and more all-purpose flour so that the dough is easier to work with and not so dry and crumbly. I’d recommend 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal flour. You could also just use all-purpose flour (2 cups).


  • 2 cans of black beans (3 cups of beans)
  • 2 cups of corn (I used frozen…fresh is not available in the winter in New England)
  • 1 cup of choped onion (one medium onion)
  • 1/4 cup corn or vegetable oil
  • Pepper/salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin (or more!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more!)
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese


1) Mix the flour, corn meal flour, and baking powder together. (The recipe book recommends you do this step, and the next, using a food processor. I don’t have one, so I did it by hand.)

2) Add the 1/2 cup of oil, followed by the water. Add the least amount of water possible; the dough should be fairly dry.

3) Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes or more.

4) While the dough is resting, to make the filling, put the 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook. Stir often until the onion is light brown.

5) Add the cumin, then the beans and corn. Cook until the beans and corn are warm and starting to get a little mushy. Add the cayenne, plus salt and pepper to taste.

6) On a floured surface, roll the 12 balls of dough into circles. Mine were approximately 5″, but would have been better if I’d been able to roll them thinner (more all-purpose flour, less corn flour!).

7) Divide the filling amongst the 12 empanadas, placing it in the center of the dough. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

8) Fold the empanadas in half. Using a fork, press into the dough to seal at the edges. Brush each empanada with milk and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

9) Cook for 20 minutes, until hot and golden brown. Serve with salsa.

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