Pastelillos (Empanadas)

Pastelillos (Empanadas)
FOR FILLING (Picadillo)
Makes 6 cups

Picadillo is also great as a filling for tacos or burritos, or Puerto Rican Sloppy Joes.

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sofrito (recaito)
  • 1 cup smooth tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 cups TVP (equivalent of 3 pounds ground meat)
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas and/or finely diced carrots (1 medium carrot)

If using fresh diced carrots, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan and sauté carrots 4 to 5 minutes until softened; transfer to a bowl and set aside. In same saucepan, whisk together water, recaito, tomato sauce, tomato paste, taco seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Mix in TVP, cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer very gently, covered, 5 minutes. Add peas and/or carrots. Taste, adjust seasonings, and check consistency. If necessary, thicken by simmering, uncovered, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Cool to room temperature before stuffing pastelillos.

Makes 20 pastelillos; 1 serving = about 3 pastelillos

  • 20 discs (discos para empanadas), homemade or vegan frozen
  • 5 cups picadillo filling, chilled or at room temperature
  • Shredded vegan cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or jack), optional
  • High-heat oil (safflower, grapeseed, canola) for frying
  1. If using frozen discs, let sit in package at room temperature 1 hour to defrost (or in refrigerator in advance), then separate discs, leaving each with a paper separator if provided.
  2. Use paper separators, or waxed paper, to keep dough from sticking and help fold discs. On a flat work surface place a disc with paper underneath. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center and 1 teaspoon of cheese if using. Fold disc over into a semicircle, peel back paper, and crimp edges together with a fork. For a better seal, moisten edges with water.
  3. Fill a frying pan with oil to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Discard paper and fry pastelillos 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden and the pastry looks bubbly. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a warm oven until all are done.
  4. May be refrigerated and reheated in the oven or toaster-oven.

Jalapeno Green Beans

Jalapeno Green Beans
Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded if desired, chopped
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed, halved if desired
  • 1 tomato, diced, or 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • Salt to taste
In a medium saucepan heat oil on medium-high until shimmering. Add onion and jalapeno and sauté until onion is tender, 5 minutes. Add green beans and a little water or reserved tomato liquid. Cover tightly and steam until beans are crisp-tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomato, cover and simmer until beans reach desired tenderness, at least 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Three Sisters Stew

Three Sisters Stew, with bread
Makes 2 quarts, serves 4

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash or sugar pumpkin (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 cup diced onion (1/2 large onion)
  • 1 dried ancho chili pepper or fresh poblano pepper (same pepper)*
  • 2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup kernel corn, frozen or canned (drained)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained

*If substituting a hot pepper for the mild ancho/poblano, halve chili pod lengthwise and cut out stem and seeds before adding to stew. Discard chili before serving.

In a Dutch oven or saucepan heat oil on medium-high and sauté squash and onion 5 minutes. Add chili, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, and half the water. Mix to coat squash with seasonings. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and steam 5 minutes. Mash some of the squash cubes (thickens the stew). Add remaining water and tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add corn and beans, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Black Bean Butternut Chili

Black Bean Butternut Chili, pictured with Cornbread
and Oven Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder*
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed 1/2 inch (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans or 1 (15 or 19 ounce) can
  • 2 cups fresh diced tomatoes or 1 (15 ounce) can
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons cold water + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, for thickening, optional
  • Optional garnishes: vegan sour cream, shredded vegan cheddar, chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan on medium-high, sauté onions until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder and squash, and sauté 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, and salt. Add broth to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash in tender and flavors are blended, about 45 minutes, adding broth if necessary to keep vegetables covered. Thicken chili if desired by adding cornstarch whisked in cold water.

Slow Cooker Method: In a large skillet on medium-high, sauté onions until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder and squash, and sauté 5 minutes. Pour into a large slow cooker. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, and salt. Add broth to cover. Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours or until squash is tender. Thicken chili if desired by adding cornstarch whisked in cold water.

*For 2 tablespoons chili powder:
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon granulated onion


Makes one 10-inch round or 8-inch square cornbread

  • 2 cups unflavored nondairy milk
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar for savory cornbread; 1/3 cup or more to taste, for sweet cornbread
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet or an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl mix milk and lemon juice; set aside 5 minutes. Mix in oil. In a large bowl whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour batter into prepared preheated pan and smooth the top. Bake until corn bread is firm, golden and pulls away from the sides, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges or squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.