Black bean plantain empanadas is what you might call an unusual combination of ingredients. It is a perfect vegan dish. I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian by the way, but find these empanadas absolutely irresistible.
You can stuff an empanada with just about anything, creativity is your friend.
I have adapted this recipe from the website Adventures in Vegan Cooking. BTW: If these look kind of dark and little over cooked in the photo, I LIKE them crunchy!
They're healthy too!
Black beans are very nutritious; they are high in protein and iron. Plantains are high in potassium. Nicaragua is the largest exporter of plantain. India and Brazil are the top producing countries for black beans. Black beans are native to the Americas and are a staple to the Latin American and Caribbean diet. You haven't lived until you've had a good Cuban black bean soup.
Whenever I cook with black beans I use the canned version.
Why? Well, because it significantly reduces the cooking time. There is one caveat: when using organic black beans, check the sodium content in the nutritional information panel on the can. I learned the hard way that most organic black beans contain less sodium than non-organic black beans.
For black bean plantain empanadas, the plantain should be ripe. How do you know it is ripe enough? It will be a deep yellow color with some black streaking throughout. The inside will be soft and it will be easy to peel. When ripe, plantain will also cook quicker than when green because the ripening process releases the sugars that break down the heavy starches. Ripe plantain will also have a sweeter taste than its green counterpart which tends to be more starchy.
Step by step photos:
- Gather all the ingredients and have them measured, chopped and ready to go.
- Heat a large skillet on medium heat and sauté the onions, garlic and plantain. Cook until the onions are soft and the plantains are golden brown.
- Add the salt, cumin and chili powder then stir well to combine the flavors.
- Add the black beans, tomato and broth then turn down the heat to low. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the broth has been absorbed into the mixture.
- Stir in the cilantro, red pepper flakes and allspice. Stir to combine and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Allow the mixture to completely cool before filling. Tip: Spread the mixture out in a baking dish and place in the refrigerator or freeze to cool quickly. Take a single round of dough and place a heaping tablespoon of the bean mixture in the center.
- Fold over in half and crimp the edge with a fork. Once crimped you can freeze them for up to two months before frying.
- Allow the fork crimp to seal for 15-20 minutes before frying. While you wait, heat the oil to 350°F, then fry until they are are golden brown. If you like them really crunchy like me get them a bit more to the brownish color.
Frequently asked questions
- Can I freeze the empanadas? Yes, you can freeze the filled empanadas for two months sealed in an airtight container.
- How do I prepare the frozen empanadas? Take them out to thaw on a large plate or plastic cutting board for 30-45 minutes before frying. Avoid setting them on a wooden cutting board as the dough tends to stick to wood as it get soft during thawing.
- Can I freeze the filling? Yes, the filling can be frozen in a sealed container for up the three months. Tip: If you have some leftover filling you can mix it into some white rice for nice side dish.
I do love the Panamanian foods I grew up with. If you loved these empanadas, I recommend trying out the following:
Tostones with Avocado Cream Sauce - Double-fried and crispy plantains that pair perfectly with tangy avocado sauce.
Rice, Beans, and Pork Chops - AKA the Latin meal. This quintessential spread is perfect for when you're craving flavors from the Caribbean and Latin America.
Black Bean and Plantain Empanadas
Great flavors in these spicy black bean and plantain empanadas and easy to make. These come together quickly with empanada discs or dicos with a quick fry and you are done. I usually make a big batch to freeze and bring them out to thaw and they are ready for a nice vegetarian dinner with some greens on the side. Everyone love an easy weeknight meal!
- 14 oz empanada dough Goya discos, large*
- 1 plantain ripe, diced
- 15 oz black beans 1 can, drained and rinsed
- 1 onion medium, diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Roma tomato diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro chopped
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp. allspice
* I like using the Goya discos to save time.
- On medium heat sauté plantains, onions, and garlic in olive oil until plantains are golden brown. Add salt, cumin, and chili powder. Stir well.
- Add black beans, tomatoes, and broth. Turn down heat to low and allow to cook for about 10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed and the mixture is soft.
- Add red pepper flakes, allspice, and cilantro and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- To assemble: On the center of each round place a heaping soup spoon of filling. Fold over and seal edges tightly with the tines of a fork.
At this point you can freeze them making sure you place parchment or wax paper between them if you are stacking them. Thaw them completely before frying and remove any excess condensation of water droplets.
- If you are going to eat these right away wait about 20 minutes before frying so the edges have time to seal.
Originally published November 2014 and updated May 2021.