05/09/2012 12:24 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Empanadas with local vegetables easy to make for weeknight dinners

These family-sized beef-and-vegetable empanadas make for an easy weeknight dinner that everyone will love. Serve with a green salad topped with cucumber slices and tomato wedges.

Giant Empanadas

500 g (1 lb) extra-lean ground beef

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped

500 g (1 lb) local asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) pieces

2 greenhouse tomatoes

15 ml (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour

10 ml (2 tsp) paprika

5 ml (1 tsp) each dried oregano and cumin

2 ml (1/2 tsp) pepper

1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt

125 ml (1/2 cup) shredded old cheddar cheese

1 pkg (400 g) refrigerated pie crusts

1 egg, beaten

In a large non-stick skillet, cook beef, garlic and onion over medium-high heat, breaking up beef with a spoon for about 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain off any fat. Stir in 125 ml (1/2 cup) water, asparagus, tomatoes, flour, paprika, oregano, cumin, pepper and salt; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened and asparagus is tender. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate to cool completely. Stir in cheese.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each pie crust into a 29-cm (11 1/2-inch) circle; place each on large parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spoon half of the beef mixture onto half of each crust, spreading to within 1 cm (1/2 inch) of edge. Brush edge of each crust with beaten egg. Fold unfilled half of each crust over filling into half-moon shape; press edges with fork to seal. Prick tops with fork in several places; brush lightly with beaten egg.

Bake in a 200 C (400 F) oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Tips: Prepare filling up to a day ahead, cover and refrigerate. Other optional filling additions include 1 chopped hard-cooked egg and/or 50 ml (1/4 cup) sliced green olives.

Nutrition information per serving: 427 calories; 24 g protein; 23 g fat; 30 g carbohydrate; 3 g fibre.

Source: Foodland Ontario.