Butternut Squash, Pablano Pepper, Oaxaca cheese Empanadas

It is the start of the year, and that means award season is round the corner. The Golden Globes just got over this past weekend and I loved watching the solidarity amongst the celebrities for the #timesup movement, for gender equality and sexual harassment issues at the work place. We all can relate to it in some way or the other, and have experienced the same in some way or the other. I finally have hope for my kids as they grow up in this world with so many injust practices. I will not go deep into this topic, but especially being a woman, and having a daughter, I feel very strongly for her to grow up independent, fair, just and be able to fight and stand up for herself and wrong doings of others. Being a woman engineer myself, I have been in a male dominated environment at work, and I feel have not been challenged enough to my full potential.

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There was an incident recently at Google, where this young Caucasian guy apparently was circulating a memo that woman are ill suited for tech jobs(b*** sh**) and he was fired last year. Now he is suing Google for discrimination against a white man. How absurd is that?! News like this just irks me to no end. So I am glad there is a whirlwind of change happening for the next generation, and for the betterment of young minds who are capable of doing so much. Anyways, I digressed! With award season in full swing, my mind starts thinking about fun appetizers that are easy to make, and fun to eat while watching the show.


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I have been wanting to make empanadas for the longest time. I had the flavors in mind with roasted butternut squash, roasted/charred pablano peppers, Oaxaca cheese(cause it melts beautifully), and olives as the filling. The squash is roasted with spices like smoked paprika/ancho chilli powder, olive oil, salt and pepper. I love the roasted squash simply on salad as well cause it tastes so good.  Once the squash is roasted(it takes literally 15/20 minutes to roast it), the empanadas are very easy to assemble. Puff pastry makes it super easy since you do not have to make the outer layer.

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The sauces are literally the highlight here! The Tomatillo Salsa Verde is a home favorite! We all love it, and whenever I see tomatillos in the grocery store, I have to get them and make the salsa. The chipotle yogurt dip is another favorite especially with my 8 year old! She loves it with tortilla chips and drizzling it on her tacos! Sooooo good and addictive!

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These empanadas went pretty quick with the family! They could not stop at 1… or 2… or 3! 🙂 I hope you get to try them, cause they are amazing! If you do try this recipe, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab and/or leave a comment on this blog post. I would so appreciate it!

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Hope you all are enjoying January and the calmness of it.  We finally got rains in the Bay Area and it was a welcome relief! The mountains facing my room are finally turning green and it is such a pretty sight!


Until next time!







Butternut Squash, Pablano Pepper, Oaxaca cheese Empanadas


  • Makes 12 empanadas
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of butternut squash cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 pablano peppers
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ancho chilli powder
  • ¾ salt(add more if its less)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½-3/4 cup Oaxaca cheese
  • 8-10 large green olives sliced
  • 1 package puff pastry thawed in the fridge
  • Additional flour for rolling out the puff pastry
  • Tomatillo Salsa Verde:
  • 1 ¾ pounds fresh tomatillos, husk removed, washed and cut into half horizontally
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed
  • ½ white or red onion cut into big chunks
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves(washed)
  • Salt to taste(start with ½ teaspoon)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Chipotle Yogurt Dip:
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp chipotle in adobo sauce(chop the chipotle very fine)
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Egg wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp of water/milk


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking pan, add the butternut squash, smoked paprika, ancho chilli powder, salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix it all well together, and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The squash will be soft and slightly charred.
  2. Meanwhile, roast the pablano peppers on the open flame gas stove, and let it char on all the sides about 5-7 minutes. Keep turning it every few seconds. If you do not have an open flame, I suggest putting it under the broiler for 5-7 minutes, in a baking pan, but watch it carefully so as not to burn it. You will have to turn the peppers every 30 seconds or so to char it well. Once charred and black on all the sides, put it in a medium bowl and cover with a plastic wrap and set it aside for 30 minutes, until it cools down. Remove the black coating with a paper towel or a kitchen towel. The pepper will be soft. Remove the seeds from the inside, and chop the pablano pepper into tiny cubes.
  3. For the Tomatillo Salsa Verde(can be made a couple of days in advance):
  4. Broil the oven. On a baking sheet pan, add a foil paper. Put the tomatillos cut side down, add the garlic, onion, jalapeno as well, and broil for approx. 7 minutes until all are charred on the top. Remove and let cool. Put it in the blender, with the lime juice, salt, cilantro, and blend till it’s almost a smooth mixture. Remove it in a container and mix in the oil.
  5. For the Chipotle Yogurt Dip:
  6. In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk to blend.
  7. For the Empanadas:
  8. On a big wooden board, sprinkle some flour, and roll out the puff pastry with a rolling pin, to a 12x12 square. You can cut it square shapes, or rectangular or round whatever you prefer, but it should be wide enough to fold when you add the fillings in. Usually one puff pastry makes 6 empanadas. On a large baking sheet pan with parchment paper, add the 6 cut pieces first. Add about a tablespoon of the filling into one half of each piece. Add a bit of cheese, and 2 slices of olives. Cover the other half, and seal tight by pinching the 2 edges together. Now with a fork make an indentation to seal it properly. Do the same for all the 12 empanadas.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Make the egg wash by beating the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork until it is well blended.
  11. Brush each empanada with the egg wash. Now put the baking tray in the middle or lower rack for about 20 minutes until the top of each pastry is light brown in color. Remove from the oven, let cool and the empanadas are ready to serve with the 2 sauces!
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