Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Empanada

What are Whole Grains?
I wanted to get it clear in my head about what were whole grains and what were not. For a long time I was under the impression that eating white rice meant eating whole grain. I was wrong. Whole grains are grains that are in their naturally occurring form. Brown rice is whole grain whereas white rice that has lost its bran and has been processed and polished would not be a whole grain.

I set about making a list of whole grains that are in our pantry. Some are staples and some that are used occasionally.
1. Brown Rice
2. Corn (usually used for making popcorn)
3. Stone ground Whole Wheat Flour
4. Steel Cut Oats
5. Pearl Millet
6. Finger Millet
7. Sorghum

Most of these grains can be cooked just like rice and used in place of rice. But our taste buds being accustomed to eating white rice protest. So the next best alternative is to soak and grind them and make dosai and most often they are so much more tastier than the dosais made with white rice. The other good thing is most often the batter does not require fermentation and they do not digest very quickly keeping you full longer.

Brown Rice lends itself nicely to fried rice or dal rice. I still would not use brown rice for eating with sambhar though.

I have not made dosai with whole corn and it is on the to try list. I have used grits and this can be whole grain or not depending on whether hulled corn or the whole kernel was used. In general beware of any final product that is white in color, be it flour or grits.

As for stone ground whole wheat flour with the bran is my favored flour for making rotis, parathas and chapatis.

Isn't it surprising that I tasted empanadas for the very first time when I made them at home last week. I first cast caught a glimpse of them on them on a vendor cart in DC about a decade and half ago and was bitten with the urge to taste it, with its strong resemblance to samosas who wouldn't be. With visions of tasty filling covered with pastry I approached the vendor and asked him for chicken or vegetarian version but as luck would have it all that was available were the beef filled ones which for some strange reason I do not eat. The filling was never the right kind for me or every other occasion I had a chance to buy them. After a while I stopped trying.

A few weeks ago on I caught an episode Healthy Flavors "Latino Inspiration for Health" on PBS where chef Jim Coleman was cooking healthy Swiss Chard and Kale empanadas. The craving to taste empanadas hit again. The very same week I found a vegan recipe for banana and black bean empanadas in the Vegetarian Times magazine I was browsing at the library. Too many signals to put off giving empananda a try. But bananas and bean did not sound right to me so I settled on Swiss Chard and Black Bean Emapandas.


Submitted to MLLA event started by Susan and the tenth edition hosted by Coco Cooks.

Recipe Source: Vegetarian Times Magazine, March 2009 issue
Makes: 15 Large Empanadas

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Empanadas
For the Dough:
1. 2 Cups of Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour (sifted to remove the bran)
2. 1 1/4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
4. 1 tsp chili powder
5. 1/2 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
6. 4 tbsp cold butter
7. 1/2 cup cold water

1. Cut the butter to small pieces and add to the flour, salt and chili powder, and break the butter into the flour with the tip of the finger so it resembles a crumbled mixture.
2. Whisk together the apple sauce and water and add to the flour till it forms a dough.
3. Cover with a cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

1. 1 bunch Swiss Chard washed and cut into strips, cut the stem into small pieces
2. 1 1/2 Cups Black beans soaked overnight and cooked till soft
3. 1/2 red onion chopped
4. 4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
5. 2 tsp coriander powder
6. 2 tsp chili powder
7. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
8. 1 tsp oil
9. salt to taste
10. Egg Wash (optional)

1. Heat oil and saute the onions and garlic till soft.
2. Add the chopped Swiss chard leaves and saute for a few minutes
3. Add the powders and salt and mix
4. Now add the black beans with a tbsp of water and cover and cook till the chard leaves are soft and cooked. (about 10 minutes)
5. Open the lid and let the mixture cook till it is dry.
6. 4tbsp Grated Pepper jack cheese (as much or as little as you want)

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. Divide the dough into 5-6 portions.
3. On a slightly floured surface roll each portion of the dough and cut them into 6 inch rounds and about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.
4. Place the filling in the middle, sprinkle a bit of cheese and fold them over to form a half moon. Crimp the edges. Place them on the baking sheet. Make a small cut for air venting on top. Brush with egg wash.
5. Preheat the oven to 400F and set the baking sheet inside, lower the temp to 350F and bake for 25 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes.

Serve with salsa or sour cream or chili garlic sauce.


  1. Same here, can't stand to eat Brown rice with sambhar, Rasam etc but brown rice is great to make casseroles, Rissoles, on the side with western chicken dishes, Idlis and dosas. Love it's nutty taste similar to wild rice.

    Cooking with red chard already? :D
    Looks delicious. Did you see my tiny Rad chard coming up at the corner of my veggie patch? May be it's too small to see but it's there!

    Love Empanadas, but always make it with meat. Enjoy the long weekend. Arvind is off work on Good Friday but kids are not.

  2. I cannot eat brown rice with anthign gravy... like liquidy, but like it as salads or with something dry on the side. I love the texture of the brown rice.. but yes. u cannot make biryani with it:-D as long as there is a balance in eating, i think we do not need to worry.

    I love the use of chard & beans for the empanada!! i like sweet empanadas too.. once in McDonalds, i found pineapple empanada, but i think it was local to the southern regions. & we have choc. empanadas in restaurants:D healthy eating huh?

  3. I have grown to love brown rice and now love it with almost everything. Had it with sambhar yesterday and it tasted pretty good :)

    Some of my friends are horrified at the idea but trust me it tastes good. Now I like it better than white rice except with certain dry dishes
    I don't think I have tried a empanada either, these look delicious

  4. Had empanadas when we went to Puerto Rico. It was street food and fabulus! Never tried to make at home so far.
    WHile having with sambar/saaru, i mix equal amounts of white and brown and cook it soft in a pressure cooker instead of using the rice cooker. That seems to work for me. Made dosa batter with the brown rice once but you can tell the difference in taste.

  5. :) Wholegrains! My most fav. subject!

    Like Sandeepa, I have started eating brown rice with sambar....and well, even thayir for the thayir saadam. It doesn't as bad! It takes some time to get used to the taste. It makes GREAT mint pulao and considering that it should make great biryani too! I should give it a try soon. :)

    Corn - well, we all think corn is good because it's wholegrain.... but it has to be nixtamalized before eating. (soaked in lime water - not the lime as in citrus fruit but 'sunnaambu') to be able to digest and be able to absorb by the body. Let me find a link for you.

    Your empanadas look AWESOME!! I have been planning to give it a try for ages with my soaked roti dough.

  6. empanadas look delicious...

  7. I really need to give your dosa recipes a try! I've been using brown rice, wheat flour, oats and quinoa, but not the rest.

    The empanada's look soo delicious. I wish I could have one right now.

  8. Great post abt whole grains. And the empanadas look lovely!

  9. I'm okay with brown rice for most things but the rest of the family is nowhere close. Have you tried the plump Kerala matta (red)rice? I love that.

    I had no idea that applesauce could be used to make pastry dough and replace some of the butter - interesting and the filling sounds fabulous.

  10. The emapnadas look wonderful. I love both Swiss Chard and black beans. Great entry for MLLA.Thank You.

  11. We use only the whole wheat flour. Otherwise no whole grains :) These empanada's look lovely and makes me dream of pooranam kozhukattai! A truly healthy snack! Would love it with chilli-garlic sauce

  12. Empanada is new to me.. Looks lovely! As u said, its just like our samosas.. will give it a try!

  13. Love the empanadas... I made them with pie crust for an easier option and with chicken though. Yours look nice and healthy.
    I agree, getting my daughter to eat brown rice with curries or sambar is a great difficulty. She had no problem eating the salad.

  14. Delicious empanadas,healthy n protein rich dish:)

  15. i'm so used to eating rose matta rice since childhood, that i don't really enjoy white rice as much as i enjoy red or brown. cracked what (bulgar) most times is also whole grain. i make up,a etc with that instead of rava.

    lovely empanadas.

  16. Indo, what a great idea. I have to try this, as soon as I get my hands on some chard!

  17. delicious empanadas :)
    and i have started eating brown rice only now - in khichdi... I also added some to my soup the other day...

    I am not getting your posts in my reader... missed a few of your posts :( ... will see what is wrong!

  18. Wow -- they look so tasty! Have me looking to plant that swiss chard today :) The applesauce in the dough is interesting.

    Your whole grain pantry is a credit to you, ISG. I'm soaking steel cut oats today ;)

  19. Me too, certain things I must have white rice.

  20. Your Swiss chard and black bean empanadas look and sound delicious! I didn't expect apple sauce to be used in a dough though. What a cool idea! Thank you for posting the recipe. (bookmarked!)


  21. These look wonderful! I can imagine what all that rich, green chard tastes like in the mix.


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