Sweet potato and black bean empanadas

Being from the UK, I haven’t had many opportunities to eat empanadas – they’re not exactly common here, which is strange, because they were originally introduced to Mexico by Cornish miners. That’s right, empanadas are actually Cornish pasties in disguise! Once you realise this, you can totally see the link, as they’re pretty much the same thing: a tasty filling, wrapped around pastry, in a half moon shape!

I recently decided to try a black bean recipe for the first time in my life (black beans are also not a staple in English cookery!), as I’d been tempted so many times by a black bean chilli recipe in Jillian Michaels’ recipe book for Master Your Metabolism. As I had to buy a bag of these beans, and I had a sweet potato knocking around in the fridge from my organic veg box, I decided to give making sweet potato and black bean empanadas a go – and I’m really glad I did! I found them on Cooking Light’s website (I love that magazine, but you can’t get it here) under a section about great freeze ahead recipes. I’ve tested them out in the freezer, and they’re perfect to reheat later. Brilliant!

I’ve decided they make a great lunch, with a feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and rocket salad.

Here’s the recipe, translated into ‘English’, but you can also get the US recipe, and view the original, by clicking here. I kept in the cup measurements, because honestly, they’re much easier!


  • 9 oz plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup rapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  •  1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 dried chipotle chilli (you can buy these in Tesco)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, or smoked paprika
  • 1 egg white, beaten


  • Combine flour and salt in a bowl, and mix.
  • Combine rapeseed oil, cold water, vinegar and egg in another bowl, and then add slowly into the dry mix until just moist. Knead lightly in the bowl, then cover and allow to chill for one hour.
  • Rehydrate the chipotle chilli with boiling water and stand for 15 minutes. Then, chop finely.
  • Toast and grind the cumin seeds.
  • Combine the chilli and cumin with the potato, black beans, spring onions, coriander, chilli, and some salt. I processed mine to make it very smooth. Taste it carefully, and season to taste, because this mixture won’t really change much in the oven – it just gets warmer, rather than being cooked.
  • Divide the dough into 10 pieces, and keep the dough covered while you work.
  • Take one piece of dough and shape into a ball. It’s best not to do this with flour, as the shape forms easier without. But, you will need flour on the surface when you roll it out. Roll into a circle.
  • Fill the centre with 3 level tablespoons of the mix, then paint the edges with egg white, and seal.
  • Continue for all of your dough and mix.
  • Cut three vents on your empanadas, then bake in a preheated oven at 200c, on a baking tray coated with oil spray. Bake for 16 minutes, or until lightly browned.

CALORIES: 209 per empanada

When I froze these, I baked them for slightly less time. Then, just sealed them in a bag and placed them on a sheet in the freezer. When it’s time to cook, I defrost them and then heat them back up in the oven for about ten minutes.

Really, these are so tasty with a salad for lunch! I combine them with 35g of low-fat feta cheese, 1 tsp olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar, cucumber, lettuce and tomato, and it’s all under 350 calories. Quite high for me as a general rule of thumb, but I’m experimenting with eating more for meals and less for snacks! (Unhealthy snacks are now banned during Lent!)

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