This recipe for Borage and Chard Empanadas was found on the Medieval Spanish Chef site and despite my low expectations (it’s a dessert empanada topped with honey, sugar, and cinnamon) considering some of the ingredient combinations, it was amazing! You know a recipe is good when you take it to a party and not only does it become the first empty plate, but someone asks for the recipe.
Nate gathered the 1/2 lb of chard from the garden while Emily and I ran to the store for feta cheese, the one ingredient we did not already have on hand or growing in the garden.
I collected 3/4 lb of borage wearing gloves and trimming off the youngest leaves of the plants with a pair of garden shears. Borage leaves can be quite prickly even though they don’t sting like nettles. The recipe doesn’t really specify leaves or stems particularly, so I focused on leaves, but we used whatever stems came along with the leaves I gathered.
Emily cut the borage and chard while I washed, both us of occasionally yelping if we got our fingers stuck from the borage leaves. Again, the recipe doesn’t specify how long to cook the chard and borage in water, or how much water, but I filled a large stock pot (only thing large enough to hold all the greens) and put maybe 1 tsp. of kosher salt in the water. Once the water boiled, the leaves didn’t stay in longer than 10 minutes until they were pretty much mush.
The dough was difficult to get thin enough, as we ended up with quite a bit of extra filling and not enough dough to make the empanadas. Ours were small, but I’d say they were perfectly party sized.
Nate and Emily both tried the filling, but I didn’t because, I cannot lie, I was afraid I wouldn’t like it and would want to nix the whole project and I was determined to bring the whole empanada to the party to see what impartial and unknowing taste-testers would think.
Chopped borage smells like a very strong freshly sliced cucumber or melon and chard has a rather bitter taste (especially the stems). Despite the relatively strong tastes in both of the main ingredients, this empanada, with just a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of sugar and some cinnamon on top (and of course a few borage flowers for edible garnish) tasted entirely like a well-balanced dessert. It was sweet, but it was not overly sweet since the inside was rather savory. I am ashamed to admit that I used Crisco instead of lard, but I haven’t had a pig slaughtered recently (or ever), so my lard supply was low (nonexistent).
According to the website this recipe came from, these are fritters, but because of the way they are folded in dough, I’m opting to call them empanadas. Definitely a recipe that will be written (with my few alterations) in my recipe book and made next spring when the borage is taking over. Had I known something so delicious could be made with borage leaves, we probably would have tossed much less of the leaves in the compost pile as the plants expired and made use of them sooner in the season.
Borage and Chard Empanadas
¾ lb borage
½ lb chard
salt to taste
1 ½ c crumbled feta cheese (about 6 oz)
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp pepper
2 hard boiled egg yolks
2 c flour
1 tsp white sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 c lard
1/3 c cold water
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vinegar
A splash rosewater
A drizzle of honey
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Clean the borage and Swiss chard. Skin garlic and chop. Cook them [We understood this to mean the garlic, borage, and chard] in water and salt. Strain when cooked and press them between two cutting boards to drain off excess water.
Make a dough by mixing together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut lard into the mixture until it looks like coarse meal.
Beat water, egg yolk and vinegar together. Stir into flour mixture. Knead until smooth. Cover and rest 15 minutes.
Chop the borage, chard, garlic, cheese and pepper [I forgot the pepper entirely and they were delicious – we also already had the chard, borage, and garlic chopped up so we just mixed them together at this point in the recipe]. Add hard boiled egg yolks and continue mixing. When well mixed add fresh cheese and mix it into the mass. Add salt to taste.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 425º F /210º C
Roll out the dough making it very thin. Cut it into circles. Take the borage mixture and make little cakes about 1/3 c each. Put each in the center of each circle of dough. Fold the dough over making a semi-circle. Seal the edges pressing them together with the back of a spoon. Prick hole in the tops for the steam to escape.
Grease a cookie sheet and bake them about 15 minutes. When golden brown remove them from the oven and pour a splash of rosewater over them and a drizzle of honey [We omitted the rosewater as that isn’t something we had and it is rather pricey]. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and serve.