This recipe is for a tuna and goat cheese filling which is still a typical filling from the region as some of the earliest versions of the dish were made with fish, and in particular tuna, which is commonly found in Spain thanks to its extensive coastline. This recipe makes the smaller, bite size versions of the dish which are called ‘empanadillas‘. These little Spanish pies are therefore great party food and can even be taken on picnics and eaten cold.
Empanadillas are one of the main players in Galician gastronomy. Throughout the region one can find many variations and it is said that every Galician family, bar and restaurant claims to have the best recipe for empanadas. So make sure to go and try all the different types if you ever visit Spain!
The history of these mini Spanish pasties is actually closely linked to the Moorish occupation of Spain back in medieval times. It is believed that the Spanish version of the dish actually derives from the small Arabic pies called samosas. The large version, empanadas were first mentioned in a Catalan cookbook called ‘Libre del Coch’ which was published in 1520 by Ruperto de Nola who wrote about empanadas with seafood fillings.
The word empanada comes from the Spanish verb ’empanar’ which those of you who study Spanish abroad will know means to wrap or coat in bread, referring to the way the Spanish pie is made.
Empanadas have also become very popular in Latin America which is thanks to the large number of Galician immigrants who settled on the continent. The empanada gallega is therefore quite easy to find in many countries across South America, and many countries have their own versions of the dish.
The beauty of empanadas is there variety and there are a number of different fillings that you could try out. Tuna and Goat’s cheese is a great filling for these empanadillas as tuna is a typical fish which is eaten Spanish and especially in Galicia. Goat’s cheese too is traditionally a very Mediterranean food and compliments the fish well. So if you are holding a Spanish or Mediterranean dinner party, why not make these cute little Spanish pies.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 tbsps minced onion
- 6 oz. canned tuna (preferably in olive oil)
- 4 oz. goat’s cheese
- 3 oz. pimento-stuffed olives, chopped
- 5 tbsps toasted pine nuts
- 5 tbsps capers, chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper to season
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 16 oz. of puff pastry (defrosted if bought frozen
- Serves 6-8
Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and fry for around 5 minutes or until they are soft. Remove the pan from the heat and set to one side.
Using a fork mash up the tuna with the onion, garlic, goat’s cheese, pine nuts, salt, pepper, paprika, pimento-stuffed olive and capers in a bowl. Leave to one side.
Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface so that it is about half a centimetre thick (⅛ inch). Using a cookie cutter that is about 8 centimetres (3 inches) in diameter, cut out as many circles of dough as possible, re-rolling the dough as necessary.
Take each dough circle and cup in your hand. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the filling into the centre of the dough circle. Brush the edges of the dough with a little water and the fold the dough over to form a semi-circle shape. Pinch the edges of the dough together and press them down with the back of a fork.
Place on a baking tray and then bake for 15 minutes in a medium-hot oven. Remove and brush the tops of the pasties with beaten egg and then bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the tops of the empanadillas are golden brown and crispy.
Remove from the oven and serve hot or leave to cool and then serve.
Adapted from SpanishFood.org