A Guadalajaran Chef’s Pumpkin Empanada Recipe


Share post:

Like most cooks, for Samuel Santos, the chef de delicacies at Flora Flora at Pendry Washington, D.C. The Wharf, cooking means way more than merely tossing collectively components in a pan. The seasoned culinary skilled, who has been fine-tuning his cooking abilities for the reason that age of 15, repeatedly attracts from his Guadalajaran roots and his household’s traditions to ideate lots of the dishes on the menu on the Latin American-inspired restaurant.

Over time, Santos has made a dedication to himself—and people who strive his meals—to honor his Mexican heritage by infusing the acquainted flavors and culinary methods he grew up with into his present-day cooking. An instance of this at play is Santos’ well-known pumpkin empanadas, which have been impressed by among the avenue meals he would eat in Guadalajara.

We had the prospect to meet up with chef Santos, who shared extra concerning the significance of honoring one’s cultural traditions by way of meals and the way he does so each day at Flora Flora (and hundreds of miles away from house). What’s extra, the chef graciously shared the empanada recipe with us, so you may get pleasure from a little bit of Gudadalajaran fare wherever you could be, too.

flora flora dining room
Picture: Courtesy of Pendry Washington DC — The Wharf

How chef Santos carries on his household’s traditions by way of meals

Based on Santos, lots of the dishes at Flora Flora have been impressed by his childhood in Mexico. “Rising up, the meals I used to be accustomed to was easy and centered on highlighting the very best traits of every particular person ingredient we have been utilizing,” Santos says. That mentioned, lots of the conventional Guadalajaran dishes he would get pleasure from had “strong and daring flavors” paired with ample quantities of acid. “To not point out sufficient spice to attract sweat as you’re consuming,” Santos muses.

In Guadalajara, Santos tells us that Spanish colonizers and French retailers relationship again centuries in the past closely influenced the distinctive flavors, tradition, and gastronomy. One instance of this affect is represented in one of many area’s most iconic dishes, which additionally occurs to be one in every of Santos’s favorites: Torta Ahogada. “A Torta Ahogada is a sandwich made with salty French-style bread, crammed with fried pork and refried beans, which is then dipped in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with lime-pickled white onions,” he says. Yum.

flora flora chef samuel santos
Picture: Courtesy of Pendry Washington DC — The Wharf

Santos says that whereas he has a deep appreciation for Guadalajaran delicacies, he has a good deeper appreciation for all traditions constructed within the kitchen. “Along with drawing affect from particular components, I’m impressed by the setting my meals curates. The best way I prepare dinner and the dishes I put together are greatest loved within the firm of each other—precisely how my household and I did,” Santos says.

“Along with drawing affect from particular components, I’m impressed by the setting my meals curates. The best way I prepare dinner and the dishes I put together are greatest loved within the firm of each other—precisely how my household and I did.”
—Samuel Santos, chef de delicacies at Flora Flora

From a younger age, Santos’ mom helped spark his ardour for high-quality, scrumptious meals. “Rising up in Guadalajara as a toddler, as quickly as I used to be capable of collect 10 pesos, I’d bike 15 kilometers [nine miles] to the fish market and purchase myself half a dozen oysters. Making use of my mother’s recommendation and knowledge on what to search for, I rigorously circled across the market and deeply examined every stand to see the place the freshest-looking oysters have been and solely made my buy after closely weighing all of the choices,” he says.

Trying again, Santos is aware of that his mom’s meticulous recommendation about oysters wasn’t the one affect she had on his relationship with meals. “My mom is the rationale I grew to become a chef. She is the one which seen how I behaved round meals and the way amused I used to be by it. She made positive to at all times discover a possibility to show me about our gastronomic traditions,” he says. From a younger age, Santos discovered to make masa and tortillas—staples of Mexican delicacies—with the assistance of his mother, who instilled methods and traditions that helped form Santos into the proficient chef he’s at this time.

“My mom is the rationale I grew to become a chef. She is the one which seen how I behaved round meals and the way amused I used to be by it. She made positive to at all times discover a possibility to show me about our gastronomic traditions.”

The challenges of sustaining cultural authenticity in meals when distant from house

Sustaining cultural authenticity in his delicacies is one thing that Santos strives to do at Flora Flora. That mentioned, Santos says that he should adapt points of his cooking, at occasions, when miles and miles away from house. “It’s a novel problem to recreate Mexican meals with components from one other area, however this permits us to be inventive and in addition to work with the very best components obtainable in our space,” he says. For instance, he makes use of sunchokes to make a creamy sauce (moderately than guacamole) for his or her tequila-cured rockfish tostada as contemporary, ripe avocados aren’t precisely obtainable in Washington, DC within the winter.

“The individuality of Flora Flora is that we’re recreating these flavors with components which might be grown and raised within the mid-Atlantic area,” Santos says. What’s extra, the methods he makes use of to arrange the dishes stay largely unchanged, and on the root of it are his Guadalajaran roots and traditions—and an arsenal of spices frequent to Mexican delicacies (particularly the recent, tear-inducing ones).

Since Santos kindly shared his well-liked pumpkin empanada recipe with us, we requested him for just a few suggestions and tips for nailing it and the inspiration behind the dish. “The pumpkin empanadas are a merge of two of my favourite avenue cart meals that I grew up with, calabaza enmielada [candied pumpkin] and empanadas,” which Santos says are a typical dish served exterior church buildings throughout Lent. As an alternative of taking a candy strategy to the dish, he gave them a savory twist by including goat cheese and roasted pumpkin (as a substitute of poaching in honey and piloncillo, aka cane sugar).

As for making them at house, Santos suggests letting them relaxation within the fridge for a minimum of half-hour earlier than frying or baking them, because it’ll assist seal the dough so the perimeters gained’t come undone whereas cooking. And like each chef will at all times inform you, style as you go. “Style the pumpkin filling each step of the way in which as you make it. Be happy to deviate from the recipe by including what you are feeling it wants. If you wish to add some chiles for warmth or extra cheese or a special cheese like Chihuahua or mozzarella, achieve this. These are your empanadas,” he says.

pumpkin empanada recipe flora flora
Picture: Courtesy of Pendry Washington DC — The Wharf

Pumpkin empanada recipe

Yields 10 servings


1 pumpkin
1/2 cup goat feta cheese
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 dice of Japanese Golden Curry
1 empanada dough disc
1 Tbsp olive oil

Salsa Verde:
1 8-oz can of complete tomatillos
1 bunch of cilantro
1/2 white onion
1 Anaheim peppers
1 jalapeño peppers
4 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp lime juice
Salt to style

To make the empanadas:

1. For the pumpkin, I like utilizing whichever is in peak season. I choose the flavour of the Koginut, Kambocha, or Blue Hubbard. Whichever one you choose, the method will stay the identical. Lower the pumpkin in half and take the seeds out. Reserve the seeds for later use. Sprinkle the within of the pumpkin with salt.

2. Roast the pumpkin at 385°F for about 30-45 minutes or till the meat is tender. As soon as roasted, let the pumpkin sit out at room temperature till it’s cool to the contact.

3. Whereas the pumpkin is cooling down. In a big pot, toast the reserved pumpkin seeds with olive oil for five minutes. As soon as toasted, add the coconut milk and the Japanese curry cubes and simmer for 10 minutes. Cross the coconut milk combination by way of a strainer and put aside to chill down.

4. Take away the pores and skin from the pumpkin and mash the pumpkin in a mixing bowl. Use about 4 cups of pumpkin and reserve the leftovers for later use. Combine the mashed pumpkin, goat feta, and the coconut milk combination

5. To form the empanadas, add some filling to every empanada and fold the dough over in half to surround the filling. Use a fork to press and seal the perimeters closed. You may refrigerate the raw empanadas for as much as 3 hours. To prepare dinner the empanadas, warmth the oil to 350°F in a heavy backside pot. Fry the empanadas till golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes.

To make the salsa verde:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Massive cube the onion, and for the peppers, take away seeds and membrane. Toss the onion, garlic, and peppers in oil and place on a roasting rack.

2. As soon as greens have been cooled down, place them in a blender with the remainder of your components and mix till clean. Add salt to style.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Related articles