Mexican mushroom and pumpkin empanadas: Empanadas de champinones y calabazas

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

Mexican empanadas are variously filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit, and served as hors d’ouevres, main courses or desserts. These vegetable empanadas are filled with a combination of mushrooms and West Indian pumpkin or winter squash. In Mexico, winter squash is sold around Día de los Muertos and Halloween as calabaza fantasía — “fantasy squash” — because it is used as a seasonal decoration. Having grown up eating winter squash, I always buy as much as I can store in a cool place, for use in soups, casseroles, and Thanksgiving specialties.


For the filling:

  • 2 cups diced winter squash, such as acorn, Hubbard, butternut or West Indian pumpkin, in ¼ inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 small head garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ pounds cremini mushrooms
  • salt to taste

For the dough:

  • 1egg
  • 1 egg white, plus another for sealing empanadas
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening


For the filling:

Cook the pumpkin or winter squash in salted water until tender. Drain well and set aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet, add the onion and sauté until just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook 4-5 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and any mushroom liquid had evaporated. Stir in the cooked pumpkin or squash, add salt to taste, and remove from heat. Allow filling to cool. May be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

For the dough:

Beat egg, 1 egg white, water and vinegar together.

In another bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender or two knives. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture. Stir to combine liquid and dry ingredients.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.

Gather dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

To make the empanadas:

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut it into 6-7 inch rounds, about 1/8 inches thick. Spoon about 4 tablespoons of filling onto half of a dough circle, and brush edges of dough with egg white. Fold over to form a crescent, press to seal, and crimp edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Brush empanadas with remaining egg white.

Place the empanadas on 2 baking sheets and bake 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and flaky. Makes about 15 empanadas.


Link to source articles
Mexican empanadas: Portable pockets of flavor
Mexican vegetable dishes: Some fall favorites

Published or Updated on: November 1, 2008 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2008
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