Lentil, Kale & Sweet Potato Empanadas with Creamy Chimichurri Sauce

I have been working on a vegan empanada recipe off and on for a while now—tweaking, adding, subtracting, then hitting the “pause” button and moving on to something else—but I have to thank Andrea Garro from Good, Clean, Health for inspiring me to wrap it up already!

See, Andrea entered a delicious recipe for Vegan Empanadas with a Chimichurri Sauce for the YumUniverse 1st Birthday Recipe Contest. They are a tasty millet and tomato-based version that I ended up taking with me on a roadtrip home to rehab my vintage trailer (which is 99% done, I’ll get pics up soon). They were perfect, healthy roadtrip/away-from-my-plant-based-kitchen food that could be eaten cold right out of the cooler, room temp, or reheated in the oven. During those 12-18hr days of wirebrushing chrome, rolling paint, scouring, drilling and doing-it-all-again, Andrea’s empanadas kept me fed. And inspired. So here’s my recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free empanadas filled with seasoned lentils and kale. Use your dough rolling skills from last week’s Raisin, Thyme and Pecan Biscuits for this simple sweet potato dough.

This recipe takes time, but slow down, put on your favorite music, relax and know that once you make these, and after you eat a bunch, you will have quite a bit of food to enjoy the rest of the week. These empanadas also make a great snack.


Makes: about 40, 3″ long empanadas
Time: 60 minutes

Large pot/saucepan
Rolling pin or a large, sturdy glass
Unbleached parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Small spoon
Chef’s knife
Cutting board
Your hands

Always buy everything organic if you can. Here’s why.
For Dough
2 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sweet potato, cooked and soft
1 1/2 tsp fine ground sea salt
Cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil, optional, for extra browning/glaze
1-3 tbsp cold water

For Filling
1 cup green lentils, soaked overnight in water with a pinch of sea salt (soaked and cooked will yield 3 cups)
1/4 cup walnuts, soaked overnight in water with a pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped into very small pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped (here’s a tip)
4 cloves garlic
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (make your own)
4-5 large kale leaves, remove stems
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Fine ground sea salt and pepper to taste

For Creamy Chimichurri
1 cup parsley leaves, remove stems
1/2 cup cilantro, remove stems
1/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (if you like less heat, just add a pinch and increase amount to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fine ground sea salt
Pepper optional to taste


Let’s get started.
Before you went to bed last night you hopefully put your lentils in a bowl, and your walnuts in another bowl, added a pinch of salt to each and filled them with water. If not, and you want to make this recipe now, you can skip those steps, but next time be sure to soak your nuts and legumes. Soaking makes assimilation of these nutrient dense ingredients so much better. Read all about it here.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Rinse lentils and place in a large saucepan. Add 3 cups of the vegetable broth (set aside that extra 1/2 cup) and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until a firm but tender texture is achieved. If you didn’t soak the lentils, you may need to add a cup or two of water (you can drain the extra liquid once they are cooked).

In a large pan, add 1 tbsp coconut oil and brown onions for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. While onions are cooking, finely chop your walnuts and apricots. Add both to your onions and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes. While cooking, wash and remove stems from kale. Roughly chop the kale and set aside. Add minced garlic and cinnamon to the pan and cook together 3 minutes.

Add that 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to the pan as well as your kale leaves.

Stir together until kale is wilted down. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and set aside. Its time to tackle the dough.

Place all dough ingredients, except the optional coconut oil, into a large bowl.

You can start using a fork to mix it all together, or go straight for using your hands (which I do).

You may need to add a few tbsp of water. Once you can form a nice ball of dough, lay out a cookie sheet-sized piece of parchment paper on the counter. We are going to use the same handy, minimal mess trick from last week’s Raisin, Thyme and Pecan Tea Biscuits for rolling dough.

Place about half the dough onto the parchment. Place another cookie sheet sized piece of parchment on top of the dough and using your rolling pin, or a large, sturdy glass, roll out the dough as thinly as you can.

Use the large glass to cut rounds. Now at this point, after I had peeled away the non-round dough, and put it in the bowl with the rest, I re-rolled the round (with parchment on top, of course, to achieve extra thinness. You may not have to take this extra step, but I wanted the ratio of dough to filling to be just right, so I recommend it if your rounds are not 1/8″ or thinner.

Now spoon enough filling onto your round to leave 1/4″ edge and half of the round empty. Fold over your dough into a half moon shape.

Use a fork to seal the edges and place onto a cookie sheet. Continue until you fill your sheet. I made enough to fill two sheets.

Place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. While empanadas are baking, let’s make some irresistible, creamy, and easy Chimichurri. Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

At the 25 minute baking mark, you can take an extra step for additional browning of your empanadas (see right versus left below). It doesn’t make a difference taste-wise, but if you want a more browned empanada, remove them from the oven at this point and using a glazing brush, “paint” some coconut oil on the dough. Place back in oven for 5 more minutes, then remove entirely from oven to cool. Make sure you cool them before you enjoy. I didn’t and burned my tongue. Then, like a little kid, I did it again, but I guess that’s a testament to how delicious this recipe is, huh?

If you have any filling left, just form into small patties with your hands and make some sliders!

Store empanadas and sauce in airtight glass containers in the fridge for about 7-10 days. I ate all of my empanadas cold, or room temp, but you can warm them in the oven. I bet you could freeze them, too. Let us know if freezing works.






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Comment Rules

  1. These look so fabulous, thank you for the recipe! Love the fruit and nut additions. Bet they would freeze well too.

  2. Robin

    Whoa. I made the big pile of filling for these and it was SO GOOD I just stopped there!! I have been eating it for a week now, and I never get sick of it. I just put the filling on some brown rice and sometimes I top it with the sauce, sometimes not. The other day I had some with half a baked sweet potato on the side, a little closer to the intended mix of flavors. Anyways, a new favorite!

  3. MaryJane Recker

    Though these may be a little labor intensive, they are delicious and worth having them around. I took them to an event, and everyone loved them not knowing the were gluten free and plant based. A great recipe!! …and by the way, if you haven’t tried the cherry ice cream by Heather, …then you are missing out!!

    • Heather Crosby

      Thanks MaryJane!

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