In Spain it is common to combine spinach (or chard) with fruit and nuts of some kind. The most famous of these combinations is probably the Catalan classic dish spinach, raisins, and pine nuts, which can also be used to fill turnovers or empanadas. (See my post on a spinach, pine nut, and raisin empanada for more information.) In her book La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain Penelope Casas gives an Andalusian recipe for sauteed spinach with quince and toasted sesame seeds, which would also make a great empanada filling.
In this recipe I combine sauteed spinach, apples, and toasted walnuts. The resulting empanada is quite hearty, almost sweet--a perfect tapa or main dish for late-fall, winter. It would be great for a Spanish-style holiday meal. This empanada is vegetarian, and can be made vegan if you substitute Egg Replacer for the egg in the crust. It's also low in cholesterol, as the pastry crust contains olive oil rather than butter.
Here's the recipe.
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
For the filling
1/3 cup of walnuts, toasted in olive oil and salt (see my post on toasting nuts the Spanish way for more info.)
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
1 large bag of pre-washed spinach (or one bunch of spinach, washed well with large stems removed)
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 large apple, peeled if you like (I leave the peel on), cut into a coarse dice.
salt and pepper to taste
First make the dough for the crust. Mix all of the ingredients for the crust with a fork in a medium sized bowl.
Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered with cellophane, for one hour.
To prepare the filling, first rinse the spinach. Throw the spinach into a large pot. Wilt it quickly over high heat. Pour cold water over it. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the spinach dry and coarsely chop it.
Saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent and golden. Add the chopped apples. Cook a few minutes more. Add the spinach, toasted walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and remove the pan from the heat.
To construct the empanada, divide the dough in half. Make two equal-sized dough balls. Roll out each to a 14" circle (or a rectangle, depending on the shape and size of your baking sheet.) Place one piece of rolled-out dough onto an oiled baking sheet. Spread the spinach-apple-nut filling onto the dough, nearly to the edges.
Now place the other piece of rolled-out dough on top. Fold over the edges and press them with a fork to seal. Cut vents into the top of the empanada.
Bake the empanada in a very hot oven, 525-550 degrees, for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Slice it into triangles as you would a pizza. You can serve it hot, but it's great at room temperature too.
You can also bake this empanada in a kamado oven (Big Green Egg). See my post on baking empanadas in a kamado (Big Green Egg) for more information.