Potato Empanada with Cilantro & Scallion Pesto

I made these empanadas with potato stuffing and shaped them in a non-traditional doughnut shape. I baked them and served them with a beautiful green cilantro and scallion pesto. Empanada is a pastry stuffed with meat or veggies (potatoes in this case) and baked or fried, usually served with some kind of a salsa.

Its a good substitute for pizza pockets – I always land up getting a heartburn after eating anything that has processed marinara – I think its the combination of the acidity from the tomatoes and the preservatives and the yeast. This recipe also has yeast but since they are made fresh and sans preservatives it is definitely a healthier option.

The stuffing is a combination of potatoes, red bell peppers, onions and cilantro flavored with some fajita seasoning…its super easy and quick to make. If you are not into the mood of going through the whole process of making the pastry dough, a simpler variation of this empanada could be that you put the same stuffing inside a flour tortilla, and drizzle of some cilantro pesto & eat it as a wrap. Also, you can mix pesto with some sour cream and drizzle that if you prefer a creamier flavor.

These empanadas are vegan except for the cheddar cheese in the pesto – you could either skip the cheese or serve these with guacamole or tomato salsa. Either way it will taste DELICIOUS!!

Serving 8 empanadas

Things You Will Need

for the dough

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp dry active yeast

1/4 cup warm water, plus more for kneading the dough

1 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water and let it rest for 10 minutes or till it gets bubbly. In a large bowl mix flour and salt and add the yeast into it. Adding 1 tbsp warm water at a time knead the flour mixture till everything is well incorporated and it comes together as a dough.  Place in a bowl (large enough for the dough to rise), cover with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm spot for 1 hour or till the dough becomes double in size. After an hour knead the dough a few time and divide into 8 equal parts. Shape the parts into a ball. Keep aside.

for the stuffing

3 medium size potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced into small pieces

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp fajita seasoning mix

1 tbsp ground cumin

handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped


little olive oil

In a large pan heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook till they turn transparent. Add bell peppers and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add salt and mix well. Add potatoes and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the seasoning and salt and stir till all the veggies are coated with the seasoning evenly. Turn the heat off and add cilantro. Mix well, and keep aside to  cool.

for the pesto

1 1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 cup scallion greens, chopped

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated


1 tbsp water

Add all the ingredients in a blender and mix till it becomes a smooth paste.

To make the empanadas

  1. Preheat the oven at 350 F. Prepare a banking tray.
  2. Roll out one dough ball into a thin round. Place some potato stuffing horizontally towards one side, leaving 1/2 inch gap from the side. Roll the dough like a cigar and pinch to seal the seams and the edges. Bring both edges together and pinch to seal forming a round doughnut shape.
  3. Repeat with other balls. Place the empanadas on a baking sheet.
  4. Brush some egg-wash on the surface – this step is optional.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or till the top turns golden.
  6. Cool and serve warm with cilantro pesto.