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You can find empanadas sold on street corners across all of South America. They’re very adaptable — switch up the filling, or use a regular pastry to cover them. This gluten-free version uses corn meal and crisps up beautifully.

You will need

Serves 4


  • 40ml vegetable oil + 500ml for frying
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 x (400g) can pinto beans
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch salt & pepper


  • 300g white cornmeal
  • 450ml water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Coriander Dipping Sauce

  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves
  • 2 limes, juice only
  • 1 long green chilli, remove the seeds and vein for a milder spice
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

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15 mins to prep

30 mins to cook

  1. Step 1

    In a pan add 40ml of vegetable oil on medium heat, add diced garlic, diced leeks, diced red capsicum, and a pinch of salt until the leek is translucent and the peppers have leached out their red colouring, for about 10 minutes stirring slowly.

  2. Step 2

    Add the whole cumin and smoked paprika and cook for another 30 seconds.

  3. Step 3

    Add the tin of pinto beans, cooking for 5 more minutes on medium heat. With a masher, mash the ingredients roughly. You don’t want the consistency of mashed potatoes as a little texture is always nice. Set aside to cool.

  4. Step 4

    Mix the cornmeal, water and salt in a bowl. Very lightly spray oil on 1 sheet of baking paper or rub the oil on the paper with your fingers.

  5. Step 5

    Take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and roll it to 1.5mm thick on the baking paper, as close to a circle as possible. Then with a dessert spoon lay the filling in the middle of the dough.

  6. Step 6

    Pick up the baking paper and gently fold the dough in half so that the filling is being covered in the middle. Using the side of a mug you drink from, place it over the filling but only about halfway as you want to create a half-moon shape. Once pressed, take the newly formed empanada and place on a baking tray for frying. Keep going until all the filling or dough mixture is used up.

  7. Step 7

    Add 500ml of vegetable oil to a pan and bring to 170–180 degrees. Fry for approximately 7 minutes or until super crisp and golden on the outside.

  8. Step 8

    To make the sauce, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until a wet sauce has formed. Serve.

Recipe: Simon Toohey

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