When I was a child, I hated most food.
A close friend of mine used to take me to this nearby Mexican restaurant pretty frequently. I’m not sure how “authentic” it was (who am I to judge authenticity, anyway), but it was (and is) very popular in our little town.
Everybody raved about their salsa, said that it was the best they’ve ever had – freshly made with large chunks of tomatoes and torn cilantro.
I flat-out refused to eat it.
No matter how many times we went to this restaurant, I would never try the salsa, and I never deviated from my order of plain cheese nachos (I was always very upset when they put jalepeno slices on it). I may have graduated to cheese quesadillas at one point, but that was as far as my exploration would go.
I would say that I was just a typical kid, but my determination to eat nothing but plain food (or, looking back now, flavorless food) held strong throughout my teenage years. College finally exposed me to a greater variety of food, as I was limited to eating what the dining halls served. This, plus being surrounded by friends who were far more adventurous than I, finally convinced me to eat vegetables other than potatoes, and not shy away from everything that had even the remotest hint of spice.
A whole new world of taste and exploration opened up to me. No longer was I limited by my fears and inhibitions – I could go out to any restaurant and try something new. At least once a month, we would try some new restaurant: Thai, Mexican, Chinese, limited only by the choices in our small college town.
A few years ago, I never would have dreamed of making anything with black beans (beans were definitely on my list of food I refused to eat), let alone black bean empanadas from scratch.
But these were delicious, and one of the thousands of reasons I’m so glad I started trying new food.
Homemade empanada dough is stuffed with a spiced black bean and spinach mixture, then baked until hot and crisp. Top with a creamy, spicy cashew queso for the ultimate lunch, dinner, or just afternoon snack.
Although making the dough from scratch and forming each individual empanada is time consuming, once these are baked, they take mere minutes to heat up. I froze the baked empanadas and then brought them to work for lunch, just heating them in the microwave. One Sunday afternoon of hard work led to a week of delicious, enviable lunches. Definitely worth it.
If you try out these black bean empanadas, or know someone who would like them, please share and comment!