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Beef and Cheddar Empanadas with Spinach Salad

We call these, "Mmmmmpanadas" at our house and my kids think it is hilarious to say. Beef and cheese stuffed inside flaky pastry dough, what is not to love? The best part is that this dinner can be served from start to finish in less than an hour.


6 ounces shredded Monterey jack cheese

1 lime

1 yellow onion, diced

5 ounces baby spinach

1 tablespoon honey

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded, minced

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

5 empanada doughs, I use prepared pie dough and use a bowl to cut out a circle about 5 inches in diameter. (I get four large and eight small empanadas)

12 ounces ground beef

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch evoo)

Kosher salt and pepper

Spices: chili pepper, Mexican oregano, and cumin

Mise in place

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Half lime. Pell onion, half, and small dice. Mince garlic. Rinse jalapeno, halve lengthwise and discard seeds. Mince half the pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat sheet and set aside.

Cook filling

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a medium high-sided pan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add half of the onion and half of the garlic and saute until softened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon tomato paste to warm through, about 1 minute. Add beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper and a shake of spices, then cook, breaking up until meat is browned, about 5 minutes and then remove from heat to cool for a few minutes.

Form and bake empanadas

Working one at a time, place empanada dough on prepared baking sheet, in a single layer. Using a slotted spoon, add filling to half of each round. Reserve pan for salsa. Sprinkle cheese mixture over filling. Carefully fold dough over filling and using the tines of a fork, press and seal edges tightly. Poke the top with the tines of your fork to make holes for steam to escape. Bake until puffed and lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

Cook salsa

While empanadas bake, add 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat to the pan. When the oil is shimmering, combine jalapeno, remaining onion and remaining garlic and saute until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and cook, breaking up, until thick and jammy, 5-7 minutes more. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and spices. Remove pan from heat, stir in half of the honey, and set aside until ready to serve.

Make spinach salad

In a large bowl, whisk together the juice of 1/2 lime, remaining honey, and 1 tablespoon olive oil until thoroughly combined. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper as desired. Add spinach to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.

Plate and serve

Divide cheesy beef empanadas and spinach salad between plates. Spoon salsa over empanadas or serve alongside for dipping.

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