Vegan Chef Terry Hope Romero's Creamy Corn-Filled Empanadas (Empanadas Humitas)

Makes about a dozen 6-inch empanadas
Time: About 1 hour, not including making

Empanadas are a real treat stuffed with a creamy corn filling, a favorite filling in Argentina and Chile. Humitas is the name for a whole family of baked or steamed foods made with pureed fresh corn that are found all over South America, and they're so good you'll feel as if you're getting away with something with every delicious bite. As with most regional recipes, there are many variations on how chefs like to season their humitas; I like adding chives, green onion, or even spring garlic scapes for zesty pungent zing in the sweet corn filling.

1 recipe Wheat Empanada Dough (see recipe here), cut into 6-inch rounds
3 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives, garlic scapes, or green onions
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
5 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed and drained, if frozen; removed from 6 to 8 ears of corn if fresh)
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
2⁄3 cup soy creamer or other heavy cream substitute, or any nondairy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
A big pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup soy creamer or nondairy milk, for brushing

1. Keep the prepared dough rounds chilled while preparing the filling. In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the margarine over medium heat, add the chives and dried basil, and sauté for 2 minutes. In a blender jar, pulse the corn kernels, garlic, cornstarch, soy creamer, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and pepper into a thick batter. Pour the corn mixture into the pot containing the chive mixture and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, until the filling thickens to the consistency of thick porridge. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust the seasonings, if desired, with salt, ground pepper, or even little more lemon juice.

2. When ready to assemble the empanadas, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Take a dough round, gently stretch it slightly outward by its edges, and brush lightly with soy creamer. Scoop a generous 1/3 cup of corn filling into the center of the round and spread it over half of the round; leave about 1/2 inch of space along the edge of the dough. It's especially important to make sure this filling doesn't spill over the edge; the wet filling can make crimping the edges a little tricky. Fold the unfilled dough over the filling, stretching and pulling it just enough to completely encase everything. (You will now have a semicircular patty.) With your fingers, firmly press down the edges of the dough, then seal by firmly pressing the tines of a fork into the edges of the empanada. Carefully lift and place the empanada on a prepared baking sheet, and brush with more soy creamer. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, dividing the filling equally among the dough rounds.

4. Bake the empanadas for 24 to 26 minutes, or until their crust is golden and their edges begin to brown. A little of the filling may bubble out of the edges, but once you get the hang of crimping the edges it won't happen very often. Allow the empanadas to cool for about 5 minutes before serving, as the filling will be extremely hot right out of the oven. To reheat, either wrap in foil and bake at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, or microwave on high for 30 to 35 seconds. Store leftovers chilled in a tightly covered container.

Courtesy Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
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