Bolivian empanadas are called Salteñas, which was named after a city in Argentina. Salteñas are enjoyed as a mid-morning snack and can be purchased from street vendors, as well as restaurants all over Bolivia. Aside from the great taste of this sweet yet spicy empanada, it’s filled with veggies and it’s baked instead of fried. Empanadas without the guilt.


The Filling:

• 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• ½  cup onions, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 3 to 4 small to medium potatoes, diced
• 1 cup green peas  (frozen)
• 1 pound lean ground beef
• 2 cups beef broth
• 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon oregano
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin

The Shell:

• ¼ vegetable oil
• ½ cup water
• 2 eggs + 1 egg white
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon ground achiote spice (or 2 packets of sazón if you cannot find achiote.  If using sazón, eliminate the salt)


1. Cook and break up the ground beef. Drain and set aside.

2. To make the base of the sauce, gently sauté the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil stirring regularly until onions are translucent.    Add salt, cayenne pepper, cumin and oregano.  Then pour in the broth, cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

3. In a separate pot, boil cups of water and add 2 pinches of salt.  Add diced potatoes and cook for 5 mins.  Add peas and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

4. Add beef, potatoes and peas to broth.  Gently mix.  In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin powder with 1 cup boiling water and add to pot with meat.  Mix well, transfer to a large bowl and let cool.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix flour, salt, sugar, and achiote in a large mixing bowl.

6. Beat eggs, oil and water and mix into the dry ingredients until it forms a soft, sticky, slightly orange.

7. Form 15 golf-sized balls and place on a floured surface.  Then flatten to shape into medium thin-sized discs.

8. Fill each disc with two tablespoons of the beef and potato filling.

9. Carefully seal each empanada to ensure nothing will leak.  Use whatever method you are comfortable with.

10. Brush with egg whites and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

11. Serve warm and enjoy the new scent coming from your kitchen.  Yum!

Makes 15 empanadas.

Elizabeth Carrion, a Dominican, co-founded Mi Cocina, a New Jersey-based catering service that also offers cooking classes, with her sister, Ana Martinez.

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