For the empanada dough:

1 cup water
3/4 cup butter
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
pinch paprika

For the empanada spinach and cheese filling:

1 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chile powder
5-8 oz fresh spinach, stems removed, washed, chiffonade
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, or similar white cheese such as queso quesadilla, shredded or crumbled
2 tbsps Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste


For the dough:

In a medium saucepan, heat water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted.

In a large mixing bowl, mix flour and salt. Make a well in the center and sprinkle a pinch of paprika in the well. Pour a little of the warm butter liquid in and stir with fingertips to make a wet paste. Pour in remaining liquid and work the flour into the dough with your hand until you get a wet, oily dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.

For the filling:

In a medium saucepan, over medium high, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the minced garlic and chile powder (not cayenne, but red chile powder) and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the spinach and sauté until all the greens are wilted. Remove from heat. Stir the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and cooked spinach together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the empanadas:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 12 large or 24 small balls. Roll out dough balls on lightly floured surface into circles with a rolling pin to about 3/8-inch thickness. Do not roll too thin as the filling may expand and burst the pastry dough if the dough is too thin. This may happen if the dough has been overstuffed with filling.

Place 2-3 tbsp (more or less depending upon the size of the empanada you are making. Do not overfill) of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold over and press edges firmly to seal. Roll edges up slightly and pinch again to insure a tight seal. Put empanadas on cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Yields 12 to 24 empanadas

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