Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Road Trip Day 2: Tempeh Salteñas (& some salad)

**Post Factum:** 
This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme. 
Before I do anything else, I must apologize to the nation of Bolivia and salteña purists everywhere, as I'm afraid mine really don't cut the mustard. They're supposed to be juicy for a start, but I'll talk more about that later. All I can say is, be gentle; this was my first go at them and they do taste good, just a bit dry.

Salteñas are the Bolivian take on empanadas, versions of which are prevalent throughout Central and South America.  I know when I think of South American foods, empanadas are one of the first things that spring to mind. Empanadas as a recipe were brought to the Americas by way of the Spanish conquistadores, hence their ubiquitous nature throughout Central and South America.  In Spain, they are generally known as empanadillas.

Even within Bolivia these pastries vary from region to region. Some of the most acclaimed varieties being from Cochabama,  Potosi, La Paz, and Sucre. From what I can gather, the versions from La Paz and Sucre are very similar...if anyone knows for sure, please correct me if I'm wrong. The ones I've made here are the La Paz/Sucre version. They are spicy and subtly sweet at the same time, usually baked instead of fried.

The filling (typically meat) is meant to be very juicy, with raisins, olives, and boiled egg layered over the top. I used tempeh to replace the unmentionable, and that's where the lack of juiciness comes in. Typical recipes call for adding quite a lot of broth and gelatin to the mixture, allowing it to chill overnight before filling the pastry. When the pastry is filled, the filling has set up from the gelatin, and as they bake, the filling returns to it's juicy state. This is why they are meant to be eaten hot, right out of the oven before the gelatin as a chance to set up again.

For those of you following along at home, here is a list of the ingredients from the original recipe. (Please find the full recipe here.)

Salteñas Pacenas filling from Alura Gonzales: 

1 1/2 lbs. top round steak cut in 1/2 inch cubes (Sub with tempeh or similar)
1 lb. potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup peas
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon aji (hot ground red pepper)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I used much a tablespoon)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
4 cups veggie consomme (hot) 

1 cup cooking liquid from chickpeas; it gells up when it cools.

See what I mean about all that broth and the gelatin? Now, I suppose I should have gone all out and used some vegan substitute for gelatin, but I'll leave that as a challenge for another day. In this instance, I followed the recipe as-is, substituted all the unmentionable stuff with some poached tempeh and called it a day. Which, to make a long story short,  is why they came out dry. But in my defense, they were still  tasty.

The dough also has a story. Part of the reason I chose this particular recipe was because the dough did not call for eggs, while many other versions did. I have to say, it was a bit of an odd pastry dough--more like a roll out cookie dough than anything else. And as such, came out quite crispy...and dry. But again, subtly sweet, rich, and tasty.

 filling, raisins, and olives all ready for their salteña home 
(you're supposed to use black olives, but I wanted green ones instead)

pastry rounds ready for folding
(3 raisins and 1 olive per pastry)

folded pastry (they remind me of those cute dinosaurs)

After all the heavy food lately, I felt it was time for a salad. I found this nice salad idea on a Bolivian recipe website. It's meant to be dressed with mayonaise and oil, but I thought a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper sufficed.

raw shredded beet and carrot, diced red pepper, red onions, and tomato

Here is some further info if anyone is interested:

I read that vegetarian versions of salteñas are not too difficult to find in cities, but I  could not find any further descriptions of what was typically in them. Here is a link to veggie friendly places in Bolivia and some other Central and South American countries:

Food Customs of Bolivia:

Tomorrow, last day in Bolivia.



  1. those look GOOD! great job! they sound really hard/time consuming to make with the tradititionl ingredients.

    beautiful countertops:)

    you version of salad sounds a lot better....the mayo...

    i especilly liked the link with all the veggie friendly places to go. that was fun to look over.

  2. Dirty Duck,

    You really are a MoFo cheerleader! And Lilly too.

    I think the countertop you see is just my granite pastry board...I wish that was the countertop. :)

  3. Rose, your version sounds so much more appealing than the original. If you need someone to vouch for their deliciousness, you know how to find me. :D

  4. Again, beautiful! These remind me of empanadas and I love how your crust has a little crimple effect. When I made empanadas I had such a hard time, it looks like you made them with such ease. Great job!

  5. Those salteña's look AWESOME As does the salad.


  6. I love the idea of your virtual travel :) I had quite a few empanadas, sin queso y carne, while in Bolivia. Looking forward to trying to recreate them at home someday :)

  7. Dry or not, you deserve a standing ovation! You are, after all, experimenting with recipes that don't lend themselves to simple, straightforward veganizing, use unfamiliar ingredients and you're doing it under the challenge of MoFo deadline pressure. And STILL you're doing a breathtaking job! You're my hero. :-)

    When I use tempeh it really absorbs any and all moisture in the dish (especially when I've steamed it first), so I always have to use extra broth/vegan sour cream/whatever in the recipe. I'll bet the dryness problem will be easy to rectify next time, and these look beautiful and sound very flavorful!

    Your salad looks so refreshing and lovely. At first I thought those shredded beets were little dried chili peppers! I'm getting a little too much into the Bolivian theme, yo creo! LOL

    (I'm glad to see Jill's here, I knew she'd really enjoy your MoFo theme!) :-)

  8. Wow, this sure looks yummy! Is there any chance you would like to do a MoFo recipe swap on the ole blogs?
    I love your road trip idea, very clever.

  9. These look really great - especially the photo of the innards show that these are really well-filled. I know it's a little late, but maybe some sauce would help even if you don't got the gelatin route? One thing, though, I'm intrigued and scared by the green olives and raisins. I'm also cringing just looking at them next to each other.

  10. Ditto what Jessica said. I love Green Olives. I love Raisins. Together? WITH PEAS???? I'm cancelling my trip to Bolivia right now!

  11. I'll bet you could use chickpea cooking liquid with some veggie bouillon in place of stock and gelatin.. it becomes so gelatinous after it cools down..

    Looks good! Love the salad too. I'm craving raw beets.

  12. Rose..Rose...Rose...What an awesome job you have done. Those are amazing looking! One would never know that they turned out dry. :o)

    Thank you so much for the advise on the tomotes.! I will have to try hanging a few upside down like you suggested. I had never heard of that.

  13. Andrea

    That is a very kind offer, I may have to take you up on that in future! :)


    Thanks! :) I've made empanadas before, but they were more of a flat half moon shape, these are kind of fun because they stand up the way.

    Jeni Treehugger

    Muchisimas Gracias!


    That's so cool. I'd love to see/know what is in the empanadas sin queso/carne/huevo etc...were they just potatoes, peas, carrots etc?

  14. Laurie

    Leave it to you for the super good-feeling vibes! I have to admit, it's kicking my butt a little, but in a good way...if that's not too kinky. :D

    Adding in the vegan sour cream is a great idea...I think that would have made these dreamy. Thanks for the tempeh pointers, I don't use it as often as I should and not so well versed with it.

    I see there's a bumble bee post up...I'm off to check that out next! :) <3 :x ??

  15. Jennifer

    I would love to do a recipe swap. Email me and let me know how it works:

  16. Jessica

    I know...the olives and the raisins! I had much trepidation about just DID NOT sound good to me either...

    but it's good...each pastry only gets 3 raisins and the crust is slightly sweet too, so when you combine it with the olives and the savory filling, you get a savory, spicy, slightly sweet's very palatable.

    The sauce is an excellent idea too!


    LOL! I was thinking of you with the green olives because your posts with them in always make me crave some...the recipe calls for black olives, but I had to have the green ones. Don't cancel your trip; it's really not bad at all! Imagine all that with hard boiled egg too!

  17. Thanks Mo! :)


    That sounds like a perfect solution to the problem...I'll definitely try that next time. Thanks for your chef expertise is much appreciated!


    Let me know how it works with the mom did that this year and she's getting ripe tomatoes from it...they don't seem to hold as long as tomatoes that have ripened on the living plant. I think if the stems are still nice and green when you cut them, you should get at least some ripe let me know.

    I love that little happy face you always do :o)

  18. I love anything wrapped in a pastry! If they turn out a little dry, why not dip them in a sauce- that sounds good! :)

  19. VegSpinz

    That is an awesome solution!

  20. Shen,

    I'll keep that in mind; if you ever come to my house, I'll be sure not to serve olive-raisin canapes.

  21. I've always wanted to make empanadas. The olive-raisin discussion above is funny. I was thinking the same thing, but since you said there were only 3 raisins, I could handle that. I'm so weird about mixing foods that "don't belong," that I should make myself just start doing it regularly. It would be a growth experience. My children are really good inspiration in this department as they don't have preconceived ideas and will eat most anything together. Just like they'll eat stuff cold that "should be" warm.

    Once again, well done.

  22. Jenny,

    I'm with your kids on the eating cold what should be warm...I can eat almost anything cold and leftover for drives my husband nuts...he's there with his toast an peanut butter, and I'm eating cold leftover pasta...and various and mom has always said that I have an iron stomach...she's probably right.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...