Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Empadinha Integral" (vegan & whole wheat pie crust)

This traditional Brazilian appetizer dish was a huge hit at our home the other day! My husband said he even "dreamed" about it that night after he ate it! hahaha.... And this coming from a man who has always been a professed non-foodie, and never cared much about what food he ate! 

This dish was an attempt into making one of my favorite traditional Brazilian appetizer, "empadinha" into a healthier one! 

Empadinhas would be translated as something like "mini-pies". I adapted the crust recipe to become vegan and whole-wheat, just to experiment and see if it would work...which it did AMAZINGLY! But for the filling I used a mixture of some leftover chicken sauce I had from a previous dish and leftover sweet potatoes. So not a vegan dish as a whole, but easily turned into one if you use a vegan filling. Definitely a versatile crust that can be used with any pie filling you like, and even used to make a big pie dish. You'll probably need to double or triple the recipe depending on how large of a pie you want. 

This pie crust is called "massa podre" in Portuguese, which translates into "rotten dough"...hehe...probably because it's so crumbly! It's my absolute favorite pie crust. And now being able to have it without cholesterol, saturated fat and refined flour, it just got even better! :)

The traditional "empadinha" is filled with a chicken sauce made with tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs like parsley or cilantro. Some will use a sauce made with mini shrimps, tomatoes, onions and corn. Another popular filling for this appetizer is a sauce made with hearts of palms. That's the one I'll be trying next.

This dough is a little hard to work with since it's very crumbly, and for that reason not a "quick & easy" recipe! It's very quick to get the dough ready, but molding it into the pan is the tricky part. You gotta make sure the dough is not too dry. If it is, add a little more milk or water to it.

Here is what you'll need for the crust:
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil 
  • 3 Tbsp almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
Here's what you'll do: 

  • You'll basically mix all of these ingredients by hand (you can start with a fork) in a large bowl until very crumbly.
  • Then you add the dough into a greased  mini-muffin pan by pressing the dough down with your fingers until it molds each spot on the pan (look at photos below for reference).

  • Then you add the filling (sauce) of your choice, and cover with the dough. Now this is the tricky part! When I used to make these with my mom, to make the "lid/top" part, we used to press the dough with our hands onto a cutting board or stone surface and then use a circle cookie cutter about the same size as the circle shape of the mini-muffin pan. Then we would cut it, remove with a spatula and place it on top of the filling and press the edges with our fingers. For this one I had NO patience for all of that, so I just put all the crumbled dough on top of the filling and pressed all of it with the palm of my hand. Even though it didn't look as "smooth" and pretty, it still stayed put once cooked!

Another way I liked EVEN better, was a topless one I did because I had run out of dough! I think it looked even cuter, and it tasted just as good. So I may start doing this way from now on :)

Check it out:

 So cute!

  • Then cover it and bake on 350F until it looks crisp and ready! Sorry I don't have a better measurement for cooking time. I really can't remember how long it took, I just kept checking on them once in a while and removed once they "looked" ready! Dough looked crisp enough.

Here are my cuties:

The one with the chicken sauce I also added the zesty Italian dipping oil in it for some heat and spice flavor! MMMMMMmmmmmm!

Above is the one with the sweet potato sauce....SO creamy!!! The benefit of having the top part is that the filling stays moist. When you do it "topless" (for a lack of better word...hehe), the filling gets much drier.

LOVED every bite of it! :)

My husband came home from work the next day and as soon as he opened the door, he asked if I had made more of these! Unfortunately I had not. 

But will be making these again very soon ;)