I can’t believe it’s here! October – the month of the first frost (in Southern Ontario) and, most likely, the last harvest. I check the 14-day forecast almost daily, and for now there is no frost in sight, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, those late and confused fall-bearing raspberries will ripen, the fall carrots will make it to baby carrot stage, and the last few handfuls of large green tomatoes will have time to turn into some distant shade of pink.
The kale is big and beautiful, the winter radishes are starting to gain some root mass, the yellow currant tomatoes are having a party despite the cool weather and a heavy dose of blight, and most surprising of all – there are still strawberries!
I wanted to write a “what I learned in my first year of gardening” kind of post, but I haven’t fully articulated that in my mind just yet. There are obviously the new bits about how things grow, whether or not they’ve done well in my space, and all the pests and problems that I’ll be considering for next season, but most of all I guess I’ve learned that I really do love it and that I can spend hours, if not days, happily out in the garden. Buuuut…and this is no news… I’m also pretty horrible at doing day-to-day chores, even if they are garden-related, so one of my goals for next season is to incorporate more low-maintenance plants and gardening practices.
A few weeks ago I visited Whole Village, a really interesting and magical place that I didn’t know existed so close to home! It’s an EcoVillage, focused on building a sustainable community on almost 200-acres of beautiful and diverse farm land. They’re developing the land with many permaculture principles and practices, and have totally inspired me to do more reading and researching into some of those things for my own garden, even if on a much smaller scale. I’ve browsed through many permaculture books last fall and now am doing a second pass with a season of gardening fresh in my mind. Whole Village deserves a post all on its own, so I’ll save that for another day :)
Totally unrelated, but guess what???? Food Bloggers of Canada featured my blog on on their site last week, along with a little interview <– check it ouuuutt! Also if you’re a Canadian food blogger not part of that community, I totally suggest you join! They’re full of great blogging resources, sponsorship opportunities, and a fantastic and super helpful Facebook community. Aaaaand if you’re in the Toronto area, we’re having a Toronto FBC meet up at the end of October, which you can find out about and join in the private Facebook group (message/email me if you can’t find it).
Today I’ve got some hot & smoky pumpkin empanadas for ya! It’s comfy fall food at it’s best, you guys! So good. The filling is made with pumpkin, apples, chickpeas, kale, and some dried chipotle peppers that I hauled over from Mexico last winter. If you don’t have a Mexico stash in your pantry, the widely available dried chipotle powder will do, but don’t skip it – “smoky” is key. Enjoy!
- 1 cup whole spelt or whole wheat flour
- 1 cup light spelt or unbleached all-purpose flour + more for rolling out the dough
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 large cooking onion, chopped
- ~2 cups of peeled and chopped pumpkin (about 1/2 a small pumpkin)
- 1 cup of peeled and chopped apple (1 - 2 small apples) - chose a crisp variety that holds shape when cooked
- 2 cups of packed shredded kale (~1 small bunch, tough stems removed)
- 1 can of chickpeas (~2 cups, cooked)
- 2 whole dried chipotle peppers (sub chipotle powder, to taste)
- salt and lemon juice, for seasoning
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. water
- To start preparing the crust, add all of the crust ingredients except for water in a food processor and process until combined.
- With the food processor running, add 1/4 cup of water and process for about 5 seconds.
- Open the food processor and check on the dough. You don't want it to be too wet, but it should look like moist crumbs that easily hold together when squeezed in your hand. If it's still dry (mine was), continue adding water, one tablespoon at a time and check after each addition.
- Empty out the crumbly dough onto a well-floured surface, collect all the crumbs into a big ball, give it a few kneads, then place the ball in a bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature while you prepare the filling.
- Start preparing the filling by soaking the dried chiles in hot water (if using) to soften. Skip this step if using dried chipotle powder.
- Heat up the coconut oil in a large sautee pan and cook the chopped onions until starting to caramelize (5 - 8 minutes).
- Add the pumpkin, chickpeas, apples, and shredded kale and stir. If using whole chipotles, chop them finely and add them in as well, removing the seeds if you want to keep it mild (I used one whole and one without seeds).
- Season generously with salt and chipotle powder (if using that vs. the whole chipotles).
- Cover and let the filling cook for about 10 - 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. When ready, add a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and taste/adjust salt and heat, if needed. Let it cool while rolling out the dough.
- On a well floured surface, roll out the dough almost as thin as you can (~ 1mm). Use a round bowl, about 5" in diameter, to score the circles and cut them through with a knife. Set them aside and collect the remaining scraps, shape them into a ball, and roll out again. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been used up. I got 16 circles, but this can vary based on the the thickness of your dough and exact size of the bowl.
- Mash the filling with a fork or potato masher. It should still be nice and chunky, but hold its shape if squeezed in your hand.
- Divide it between the circles, paying attention to make sure that it's a good amount for each empanada.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- To shape the empanadas, brush the outside of half each circle with a little bit of water or egg wash (where the dough will come together) and fold it in half, squeezing the round edge with your fingers. Make a decorative edge pattern with your hands, or use a fork to press the round edge. Repeat for the remaining empanadas.
- Arrange them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush with egg wash (skip it for the vegan version).
- Bake them for 20 - 30 minutes, until the pastry is cooked.