La Vuelta Gastronómica – Vegetarian Empanada Gallega

Vegetarian Empanada Gallega

A series to pay homage to the biggest cycling event in Spain: La Vuelta a España. You can join this tour without a bike, but not with an empty stomach. For more Spanish recipes on this series, follow this link.

A not so well-intentioned popular saying has it that “if you see a gallego (Galician) in the middle of a staircase, you can never be sure if he is going up or down”. Galicia’s remote location, on the far North West corner of Spain, has probably contributed to the (mostly) undeserved perception of Galician folks elusive and wary – you know, the kind of people that will answer any question with another. And whereas most Galician people I’ve met are usually far from that stereotype, I have to say that the saying fits the bill for at least one very Galician thing: the dough for their popular Empanada Gallega.

Many failed (and hard to bite) attempts at making empanada dough have had me tweaking the saying to a more personally flavoured: “If you see a Galician empanada in your oven, you can never be sure if its going to rise or let you down”. Luckily, the search paid off, and I finally found a fool-proof  empanada dough recipe that is also 100% stereotype free.

And to continue with my attempt today to get the “100% stereotype free” seal of approval for this recipe: note that it is not by chance that I chose a fully vegetarian filling in favor of the more traditional, meat or seafood based  (tuna with tomato, cod with raisins, octopus) fillings. My heart skips some beats when I am told by our vegetarian friends of their ordeals to find decent vegetarian food while visiting Spain. Please, believe me when I say that our global image as voracious meat eaters is totally underserved. AND that it could almost disappear altogether if the rest of the world stopped insisting on considering jamon iberico as meat.

Difficulty: You may sweat a little on this ride – but you won’t even notice if you’re wearing merino.

Time: 1 hour


For the filling:
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 eggs, boiled
  • 1 cup black olives
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

For the dough:

  • 500 g unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml white wine
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 1 egg (for brushing)


  1. Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil and heat on medium-low.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan. Saute for 5-7 minutes until soft.
  3. Add garlic and green and red peppers (chopped) to the pan, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes, until pepper softens.
  4. Chop zucchini, eggplant in small dice and add to the pan. Stir so that the oil covers the vegetables.
  5. Add tomatoes, diced small.
  6. Add salt to taste, and sugar to correct acidity, and let simmer for around 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Continue with the dough, while the vegetables cook:
  8. Mix flour with dry ingredients (instant yeast, salt, sugar) in a big bowl
  9. Make a well in the centre and pour olive oil, wine and water
  10. Mix and knead using your hands, until you get a smooth dough
  11. Knead dough to a ball, cover bowl with a damp, clean cloth and place on a warm place. Let rest for 10 mins.
  12. Divide the dough into two balls of approximately equal size.
  13. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and roll each ball into a flat round of your desired thickness.
  14. When the filling has cool down, add olives and boiled egg, cut small. Spread evenly on top of one of your pieces of dough; then place the other piece on top.
  15. Seal the bottom and top together using your fingers, by rolling the edges together. You can also press the edges with a fork to make a seal.
  16. Brush the top with egg.
  17. Place in the medium rack of a pre-heated oven, at 350F, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

2 thoughts on “La Vuelta Gastronómica – Vegetarian Empanada Gallega

    1. Thanks!! By the speed I saw it disappear, I feel I can safely assume that not only the looks were good! 😉
      I am checking your blog right now and seeing many recipes to add at my “to try soon” list: they look so good! Like this one. Pumpkin and sage are ingredients we seldom use in traditional Spanish cooking, but I’ve become addicted since I move to Canada.

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