Faux Pho Empanadas

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I’d been toying with the idea of pho and empanadas for a while before finally getting around to finding the star anise and testing them out. I’d predicted correctly that they’d be delicious!

For the dough:

Mix together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes, 1 egg, 1/3 cup ice water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. It should form a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times with your hands, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

For the filling:

Brown 1 pound ground beef, then add 1/2 diced white onion, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon crushed anise seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the zest of two limes, 1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Bring to a light simmer and continue simmering approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the sauce:

Blend together 1 bunch lemon basil leaves (approximately 1 cup), about 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, 4 jalapenos, seeds and tops removed,  green onions, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.

When everything is thoroughly chilled and cooled, break off 1/4 cup sized pieces of dough, shape into a ball, and roll out into a flat circle. Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling. Roll over the edges and crimp using a fork or your fingers. You can get pretty fancy with how you secure your empanada edges. I have not gotten that fancy. Brush with egg wash (1 egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon of water) and cook at 400 degrees until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. You can use an air fryer at this step if you have one. Serve hot with generous helpings of the dipping sauce.

Farro Salad

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Bring two cups of chicken stock to a boil, add one cup of rinsed farro. Reduce to simmer, cover. Cook 25 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat. Let cool.

Once cool, add 1/4 cup feta, 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, four diced green onions, 1/2 an English cucumber, diced, 4 pepperoncini, diced, 3 tablespoons finely cut mint, and one tablespoon olive oil. Stir to combine.

You can add diced chicken if you feel so inclined.

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Blistered Carrots with Labneh

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Wash a bunch of carrots. I used rainbow carrots but regular orange ones are great. Don’t peel them. If you find that your carrots have a big size difference, consider slicing the largest ones in halves or in quarters. Preheat your oven to 450. Or, if you’re making three ingredient roast chicken, wait until the last fifteen minutes of your cook time to begin cooking your carrots.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, drop your carrots in and allow them to cook about a minute before flipping them and searing on the other side. Then, place skillet into the oven and cook at 450 for 20 minutes. If you’ve done the math and realized that this will take you past the time your chicken will be cooked, that’s on purpose. Your chicken needs time to rest before you carve it, giving you time to finish your carrots.

Remove your carrots from the oven and plate. Spread a quarter cup of labneh over them, and drizzle your favorite olive oil + herb sauce. For some of you, this will be pesto. I went with yogurt dip seasoning (dried basil, dried mint, taragon, garlic flakes, onion flakes, pepper and salt) rehydrated in a bit of olive oil. If you have a pine nut sensitivity, blend together 1/3 cup of fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, two cloves of garlic and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt together and use that to top your labneh.

Serve hot. Serves two.

If you cant find labneh, you should know that it’s basically just strained Greek yogurt. You can use regular Greek yogurt or strain it yourself in some cheese cloth.

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