It seems like virtually ever culture has some version of a ball of dough stuffed with meat. In Israel, kubbeh is the meat-stuffed dough ball of choice served in either a sour, lemony broth or a tomato/beet based broth with veggies and kubbeh balls. In Latin America, kubbeh = empanada. And in San Francisco, Mexican food = amazing. My most recent Mexican food adventure included the most delicious empanada I have ever had. This is my take on it, but with a Middle Eastern hairdo. The empanada itself is made with plantains and chickpea flour, is stuffed with plantains, ground beef and baharat spice, topped with tehina and parsley, and resting in a slightly altered version of muhammara (a walnut, pomegranate, and roasted red pepper dip that I added chocolate to and heated up). Now, I know if you live in Israel you won’t be able to find plantains, and I’m really sorry because this will be week two of an ingredient that you can’t find anywhere. I’m fairly certain though that you can use bananas instead.

Makes about six

What you need

3 plantains (or probably six bananas)

1/2 c chickpea flour

1 lb ground beef

salt + pepper to taste

1 tsp baharat spice (optional)

chopped parsley for garnish

For the sauce

3  tblsp water

1 red pepper; roasted

1 c walnuts; ground

4 tblsp pomegranate syrup

4 tblsp lemon juice

4 tblsp olive oil

2 tblsp garlic; minced

cayenne pepper to taste–you want this to have some heat though

3 tblsp melted dark chocolate

How to do it:

Boil the plantains for about an hour in their skin. While they’re boiling, place the ground beef and baharat in a frying pan and cook with some salt and pepper over med-low heat until fully cooked–don’t overcook. Set aside. Make your sauce by combining all the ingredients (except for the water) in a food processor/blender and grind them up into a paste. Place into a small pot on the stove (you’re going to heat this up with 3 tblsp water when the plantains are done). After about an hour, remove the plantains from the water with tongs and use them to peel the skin off; place the plantains in a large bowl and mash them up. Take about 1/3 of the plantain mixture and combine it with the beef. Add a little salt to it. Add chickpea flour to the plain plantain mixture and combine well.

In your hands, take tennis ball sized amounts of the chickpea + plantain mixture, roll into a ball as best you can and place it between two sheets of parchment/wax paper. Flatten into a disc with a tortilla press/roller/glass cup. You want the disc to be fairly sizable and also with some thickness, so shoot for about six inches in diameter and 1/4 of an inch in thickness. You may have to start over the first time just to get a sense of the size. Take a tblsp or two of the meat & plantain mixture and spread it down the center of the disc vertically and fold the plantain over so you have a half-moon kind of shape. You can pinch the edges down if you like, leave it open like a taco, or pinch it down and run the tip of a small fork along the edge to give it a pretty look.

Lightly spray a baking pan and bake the empanadas at 375 F for about 20 minutes or until they slightly brown. During the last couple of minutes of baking, heat up your sauce. Pour/spread some of the sauce on a plate, lay the empanada on top, top with tehina, garnish with parsley and enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Ground Beef & Plantain Empanadas with a Walnut, Pomegranate + Dark Chocolate Sauce

  1. I got so excited that maybe you had found plantains somewhere! And then I kept reading. Sigh. This looks seriously good.

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