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Empanadas are delicious dish originating from Spanish cuisine that is popular in a wide range of regions across the world. Most notably, these delicious savoury treats are particularly popular in Spain, Southern Europe and The Philippians, along with an assortment of Latin American countries. That said though, empanadas are gradually becoming more and more popular in other parts of the world. As such, if you’ve just heard of them, you may want to try some for yourself. However, you may be unsure what to serve with empanadas. If so, we can help you with that.
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What Are Empanadas?
As mentioned above empanadas are a foodstuff that originates in Spanish cuisine. Put simply they are small baked pastry parcels with a filling in the middle. Some common empanada filling examples include meats, cheese, veggies, roasted poblano peppers and a variety of other ingredients. However, in addition to savory empanadas, sweet options that include fillings such as a fruity jam are also a popular and delicious treat
A few common comparisons to them would be Italian arancini, Chinese dumplings or English pasties. In truth, there are some similarities. However, empanadas are very much their own distinct entity with empanada dough being the most obvious distinction. This dough is uniquely tender and flaky along with a delightfully abundant butteriness, all of which are traits that perfectly complement the filling within.
What Goes With Empanadas?
When deciding on side dishes to serve alongside empanadas there are a variety of factors to consider. Perhaps one of the most important variables though will be the choice of fillings used within a particular empanada recipe. This is because different side dishes will inevitably work better with meat empanadas or veggie empanadas than they would ones filled with say cream cheese. On a more extreme note though sweeter empanadas will likely clash heavily with sides that are intended for savoury ones and vice versa.
Additionally though, when you’re deciding to pair some empanadas with side dishes it is important to pair them with sides that contain complementary textures and tastes. This can be done in a variety of different ways but fundamentally this is done with sides that in some manner are able to contrast or reflect those already there, or even both.
What To Serve With Empanadas?
With the above in mind, you may already have a couple of ideas for side dishes you can serve alongside your empanadas. Equally though, you may find yourself no closer to deciding on some perfect side options for this Spanish foodstuff. Either way though, like with sides for the aforementioned arancini there is a wide variety of great side options to choose from with some great choices including:
- Fried Plantains
- Refried Beans
- Potato Salad
- Green Salad
- Corn Salad
- Corn on the cob
A slightly starchy yet sweet side option to serve alongside your empanadas are some fried plantains. These fried fruits make for an especially wonderful pairing when served alongside your main dish as they provide a delicious sweet and savoury dynamic that contrasts in a complementary manner.
By deep-frying your plantains the result is a deliciously caramelised side that practically melts in your mouth contrasts wonderfully with tender, flaky and often meaty textures found in the main meal. Additionally, the subtle sweet tastes and layers of flavour provide an extra wonderful mesh of flavours that perfectly bounces of the assortment of rich and delicious flavours each empanada filling can provide.
Another excellent option should you not want to deep fry your plantains, is to sauté them. The beauty of which is that cooking them in this manner gives them a slightly more buttery taste.
Meanwhile, another iconic way to prepare them, albeit not a typical option for fried plantains is to bake some plantain tortillas. Whilst maybe not the most expected option this method is fantastic if also serving some dipping sauce such as cheese sauce or sour cream, these are an excellent option.
For a variety of different dishes perhaps one of the most commonly chosen sides is to serve it with a side portion of rice. Rice is very much a side that can be made to have very simple flavours or quite complex ones. As such, it is an incredibly versatile dish option that can be adapted.
Of course, a steaming bowl of white or brown rice is an excellent option to serve this side. This option allows the flavours of the empanadas to take centre stage and therefore really stand out on their own whilst providing the extra texture of fluffy rice.
Alternatively, though, you can serve a more varied and flavourful rice dish that reflects or heavily contrasts the flavours of your empanada fillings in a complementary manner. Depending on your choice of filling Spanish rice (also known as Mexican rice) may do this by adding some spice to the meal. Meanwhile for the latter fresh cilantro lime rice or black beans and rice adds creamy and light flavours through the beans whilst the lime juice and cilantro add some wonderful zest.
Salsa makes for both a wonderful topping or dip for your delicious empanadas. However, when most people think of salsa they will likely only remember the classic tomato salsa. An option like this works well as do a variety of other saucy salsa options such as mango salsa or even salsa verde (meaning green salsa). This is due to the saucy salsa providing some extra moisture to the meal.
However, other less saucy salsa options such as pico de Gallo salsa also make for excellent sides for your empanadas. In particular, though, pico de gallo combines Spanish onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, lime, and cilantro into an easy to make homemade salsa. The result being a side that is wonderfully zesty, flavourful and refreshing that also plays fantastically off the already present flavours of your main.
Salsa will make for a perfect choice of side for empanadas, no matter which option you go for though. This is because of the cool, light and refreshing tastes and textures present. Each of which will both wonderfully mirror and contrast those of your empanadas.
On the theme of the Mexican dips, another wonderful side option for your empanadas is of course a small bowl filled with guacamole. The combination of guacamole and enchiladas makes for one of the most perfect combinations of main and side when paired together.
This is for a very good reason though as the cool, zesty, rich and tangy aspects of the guacamole will simultaneously reflect and contrast with the rich, flaky and tender empanadas. They will also wonderfully complement the fillings within whether it be meaty yet lean ground beef, creamy and slightly nutty cheese or earthy, soft and crunchy veggies. Depending on the extra ingredients that you use guacamole will also add some slight tartness in addition to some extra freshness.
There is of course the temptation to use a store-bought pack of guacamole from the local supermarket when serving it as a side dish with your empanadas though. However, homemade guacamole is always the better option. Not only is freshly made guacamole incredibly simple to make but will likely be more tasty and satisfying to eat, especially so when you make your own empanada dough. In order to do so, simply mix and mash a combination of ripe avocados, white onion, fresh Roma tomatoes, lime juice (or lemon juice in a pinch) and cilantro.
Another delicious side option in the theme of Mexican options is to plate up some refried beans alongside your main. This is because they make for a wonderful choice if you are after a halfway option between a side dish and a dip to serve with your empanadas.
Despite what the name suggests, refried beans are not beans that have been fried multiple. Truthfully, they are pinto beans that have been boiled, mashed and then fried along with cheese with an assortment of seasonings. The resulting dish has a wonderfully plump and tender yet creamy texture. Additionally, there are a diversity of flavours to be found within refried beans with them primarily being sweet and earthy. However, the addition of cheese also adds extra delicious layers.
There is a wonderful balance of flavours and textures that when paired with empanadas both contrast and reflect each other in various ways depending on the filling in question. For example, with cheesy empanadas, the cheese within this side helps link the two dishes together perfectly. Meanwhile, the sweet beans contrast with any spicy seasonings or ingredients used, whilst empanadas with a particularly meaty filling will the creamy texture of the refried beans makes for a deliciously rich contrast.
When wanting something starchy, earthy and creamy the iconic German side dish potato salad is an excellent potato-based side to serve with your empanadas.
No matter how savoury filling you have in these pastry parcels, potato salad is an excellent choice for a side dish. Your empanadas may share certain flavours and ingredients with your salad such as potatoes or a particularly filling such as cream cheese. That said, these two dishes are of course very distinctive from one another and as such bring a variety of different flavours in their own right.
Personally. potato salad is a favourite side of mine that I believe goes beautifully with near enough any main dish. However, it goes perfectly with empanadas since the flaky, rich and tender pastry and richly flavourful fillings within will be contrasted in a truly beautiful way by the combination of creamy mayonnaise and soft yet earth potatoes.
Just like guacamole, another wonderful trait of potato salad though is that it can easily be prepared in advance at home. As such it is a convenient and delicious option to pair with some freshly fried or baked empanadas. Additionally, if you want potato salad that is somewhat more layered and elaborate, there are a multitude of ways to accomplish this. Most simply though incorporating additional ingredients such as boiled eggs or celery is an excellent way to do this.
On the subject of salads, a nice green salad will pair well with near enough any savoury dish. A classic salad will add some variety in texture and taste, along with some wonderful freshness to the rich empanadas. In addition, the salad can be customised in a variety of ways to perfectly fit in with the choices of filling.
When pairing a green salad with empanadas, a wide variety of options will work excellently. However, a simple but effective option is to prepare some variation of an arugula (rocket) salad. One classically simple and delicious option for this is to make a salad consisting of arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, thinly sliced shallots and shaved parmesan cheese.
However, a more elaborate and slightly more decadent option is to make an arugula salad featuring creamy goat cheese, and crunchy apples alongside this delicious green. The resulting combination of textures plays excellently with the empanadas. Flavour-wise, the tart and earthy goats cheese, sweet apples and peppery flavours each contrast beautifully not just each other but also the rich, flaky and buttery pastry and also whatever savoury filling you opt for.
Answer: What To Serve With Empanadas?
When deciding what to eat with your empanadas, there are a wide array of options that you can pair with this delicious Spanish dish. Whether it’s sweet or zesty dips, creamy potato salad, or some fluffy rice though, you are sure to find at least one side dish option that will adore with your empanadas.
Naturally, the above is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delicious sides for your empanadas. As such whether you choose one of these, something of your own imagination or perhaps a combination of the two, you are sure to have a deliciously rich and flavourful meal. Perhaps one that may even become a new favourite at that.
FAQ – What To Serve With Empanadas?
What are empanadas traditionally filled with?
Empanada fillings may include meats, cheese, veggies, roasted poblano peppers and a variety of other ingredients. However, in addition to savory empanadas, sweet options also exist that include sweet fillings such as a fruity jam along with an assortment of other delicious sweet treats.
Is it better to bake or fry empanadas?
When making empanadas you may be torn on whether to bake or fry them. Baking empanadas will take longer but will allow you to cook more simultaneously, additionally, it will likely be healthier. However, fried empanadas are generally seen as superior in flavour and texture.
How do you eat empanadas?
Empanadas are a delicious Spanish foodstuff that can be filled with a variety of different ingredients
Are empanadas fattening?
Empanadas are traditionally made by wrapping dough around various ingredients such as beef and cheese before deep-frying them. As such, they are often not considered to be the most healthy choice of food.