We’ve made the decision as a family that we would make the kids’ lunches for school each day, and all in all it’s worked out great. But there’s one day every couple of weeks when my kids aren’t quite as thrilled about it. Pizza day! Knowing the position pizza holds in today’s kids’ diets, our school district has limited pizza in the school cafeteria to just one day every two weeks. But when that day comes, the excitement among the student body is palpable.
Of course since my kids carry their lunches to school, this puts them on the outside looking in on a very big event every two weeks at school, unless we do something about it. The easiest remedy is to simply let them buy lunch at school on pizza day, and believe me, we’ve done that. But, without making value judgments on the quality of the ingredients of those school-made pizzas, I can say they look fairly one dimensional and a little bit greasy.
So I’m feeling bold this year and plan to compete with pizza day on my own terms. My challenge is to deliver a superior homemade lunch that delivers all the fun of pizza day, but that’s nutritious and the kids will enjoy even more. Here’s my answer: The Pizza Empanada!
With three of their favorite ingredients salami, sausage and cheese, it’s a hit. But it also includes hidden vegetables and a delicious Manchego-Panela cheese combo that’s a winner. Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers.
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WHAT YOU NEED
- 2-14 oz packages pizza dough
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 medium white onion, chopped in half-inch squares
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped in half-inch squares
- Non-stick cooking olive oil
- 1/2 cup Cacique® Manchego cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup Cacique® Panela cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup salami, finely diced
- 1 cup sausage, finely diced
- 14-16 Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Leave dough in the package and let stand at room temperature for 35 minutes.
- Mix carrot, white onion and red bell pepper. Spray a baking sheet with the olive oil. Spread vegetables on top and top with another layer of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft.
- Mix Manchego and Panela cheeses. Leave apart.
- When vegetables are ready, leave them to cool down for a couple of minutes, then puree them in a food processor. Mix vegetable puree, tomato paste, salami, sausage and basil. Leave apart.
- lace one pizza dough on a floured board, cut it in 8 pieces. Take one piece and roll it out to form a circle of approx 4-5 inches in diameter. Spread a generous spoonful of the tomato-meat filling either side of the center of the dough circle. Leave a border around the edges. Top with a generous amount of the cheese mixture. Fold the top of the dough over the filling and press with your fingers to seal. Don’t be afraid to press firmly, then fold the edge up for a double seal. Finish by pressing the edge with the tines of a fork. Put on top of the baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat until you finish with both pizza doughs.
- Make a small cut on top of each empanada and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.