Butternut Squash, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Empanadas

Delicious and healthy vegetarian empanadas, with butternut squash, mushrooms, spinach, herbs and goat cheese. 

In less than a week, I’ll be on a plane to Brazil for a 3-week vacation, and then I’ll come back to Portugal for one day before moving to London. So here I am, frantically finishing up a semester of teaching, trying to find an apartment and job in London, getting rid of most of my things, packing up the rest, preparing for vacation, and all the while writing neglecting my master’s thesis. Let’s just say that life is a little overwhelming at the moment.

When things get crazy, I crave simplicity. I also crave pie…but I definitely don’t want to make a pie. Enter empanadas!

Even though making empanadas can be a bit time-consuming, there’s something about making and eating them that is just so simple and comforting! I mean, we’re talking about warm and tasty goodness wrapped up in even more warm and tasty goodness. No plate required. Just grab a napkin (or not) and eat one, or two, or ten. The best way to make this is with a helper, cutting the dough circles as you fill and close them.

I made these the lazy way – that is, with storebought dough. I’m never satisfied with storebought pie dough, but in Portugal they sell a really tasty shortcrust pastry dough (massa quebrada) which makes delicious empanadas. If you’re feeling ambitious, here is a tasty recipe for empanada dough.


Butternut Squash, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Empanadas

Yield: 12-14 empanadas

The best thing about these empanadas is that they are (mostly) guilt-free. Butternut squash, mushrooms, AND spinach. Just look at all the nutrients!

Ok, I lied. The best thing about these empanadas is that they are delicious. They are tiny pockets of yum. Serve them with a side salad for a light vegetarian meal, or as an appetizer. They taste good room temperature, but if you reheat them, I recommend doing so in the oven, not the microwave (to avoid mushiness).

I use herbes de provence, which is a blend of rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory and marjoram. If you don't have herbes de provence, just use a blend of whatever you have on hand.


  • 2 sheets empanada dough
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I cut mine into quarters)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
  • 1 cup packed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 12 oz goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water


  1. In a small saucepan, cook squash in lightly salted boiling water until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, saute onions and garlic over medium heat until onion is soft. Add mushrooms, and a dash of salt. When the mushrooms start to release their liquid, add wine and herbs. When nearly all of the liquid has cooked off, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat, add the butternut squash and goat cheese, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To prepare empanadas, preheat the oven to 400ºF/180ºC. Cut the dough into 5-6 inch circles. Collect the scraps, roll them out with a rolling pin and get a few more circles. Place a small amount of filling on each circle and fold pastry over to close. Pinch the edges shut and then use the tines of a fork to press the pastry edges together firmly. Be sure the edges are really well-sealed, or the empanadas will pop open in the oven! Cut small holes in each empanada to allow steam to escape.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water. Brush mixture empanadas. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
        empanada open

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