Kohlrabi and Kabocha Empanada

I’ve been meaning to make this for a while. I’ve heard of kohlrabi, and have seen them in markets, but never knew how to cook with them. 
They look pretty interesting, right?  Apparently, “kohlrabi” is a German word for “cabbage turnip” (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rube for turnip).  I learned that kohlrabi is more related to cabbage and cauliflower than to root vegetables.  However, when you peel the skin and slice it, it has the same texture as turnip/daikon. 
Anyway, this recipe was adapted from different recipes, I was praying as I was making this because I switched few ingredients and the amount. 
Makes about 20 empanadas:
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 medium kohlrabies, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 kabocha squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 can black bean, drained
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon cumin
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 boxes of pre-made pie crust OR one batch homemade dough**
1 egg

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook with the onion for few minutes.  Add the cumin and nutmeg and blend the spices well. 
Toss the kohlrabi and kabocha and cook until semi soft, then add the black beans, salt and pepper,  and cook for additional 5 minutes (or more)  until kohlrabi softens. 
Roll out the dough to be a little thinner than pie crust typically is.  If you are using pre-made crust from the store, run your rolling pin over it once or twice.  Using a cereal bowl or large circular cookie cutter, cut out 5-6 inch-ish circles from the dough.  Combine the left over cut out dough and re-flatten to cut more circles.    **I used the store bought pie crust and it yielded 20.
Pre-heat oven to 425F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Prepare egg wash by beating an egg with a teaspoon of water, and set it aside along with a small bowl of water. 
To make the empanadas, spoon about one tablespoon of filling mixture into the center of a dough circle.  Feel out the right ratio that allows you to close off the dough without any filling popping out.   Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it around the outside edge of the dough.  Fold dough over the filling to create a half circle.  Press down edges.  Carefully pinch the edges to seal them tightly.  A fork can also be used to crimp the edges – but if you are used to making traditional Chinese or Korean dumplings you should be able to do this with ease!
Repeat the process to finish all the empanadas, laying them on the lined cookie sheet.  With a fork or a toothpick, prick the tops once or twice and brush with egg wash.  Bake for 8 minutes and turn over.  Bake another 5 minutes until deep golden brown and flaky.  Best served straight from the oven.  I served with fresh tomatillo salsa (bought from a Mexican store).   You can make tomatillo salsa, but the recipe I have is time consuming (but easy).  I’ll post the recipe next time. 
As I said, I used the pre-made pie crust from the store.  I think this is a good recipe for busy people.  Make the filling the night before, use the pre-made crust and pop them in the oven!  I have a recipe for homemade dough, but let me try it out and I’ll post it next time. 
In my opinion, this recipe was very filling and flavorful. Kohlrabi kept it’s shape, kabocha added the sweetness, and the black beans brought all the ingredients together.  I only added cumin and dash of nutmeg, but you can add other spices too.    I was a bit concerned if my kids will like this (since they don’t particularly like cabbage and turnip, thus I wasn’t thinking they’ll like kohlrabi).  Fortunately, they both LOVED these empanadas and asked if they can take these for school lunch!

Note:  If you want to, you can save the leaves from kohlrabi.  You can stir fry, bake them in a quiche, chop them up and add in your soup or stew, etc, etc.


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