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Prawn  Queso Fresco Empanadas with Charred Tomatillo Sauce

The origin of empanadas, a popular street food in Latin American, can be traced to Spain and Portugal where they were often filled with seafood. This empanada is filled with prawn and creamy queso fresco offset by a tangy Mexican tomatillo salsa.


  • 250g tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed well

  • 3 serrano chilies, seeded

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 125g cream cheese

  • 1 cup shredded queso fresco, divided

  • 3 green onions, sliced

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped and seeded fresno chilies, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 250g medium prawns , peeled, deveined and finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds, divided

  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Ground Cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Chilli Powder

  • 2 x 400g refrigerated pastry /pie dough


  • 1.

    For the Charred Tomatillo Sauce, toss tomatillos, serrano chilies and garlic with oil. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until tomatillos and chilies begin to char in spots. Cool slightly. Place tomatillos, chilies and garlic in blender container. Add cream cheese and 1/2 cup of the queso fresco; cover.  Blend on medium speed until pureed. Add green onions, cilantro, 1 tablespoon of the fresno chilies and salt. Blend until smooth.

  • 2.

    For the Empanada Filling, mix 2/3 cup of the Charred Tomatillo Sauce with remaining 1/2 cup queso fresco in large bowl Add prawns, 1/4 cup of the almonds, 1 tablespoon of the remaining fresno chilies, cumin and ancho chile pepper; mix until well blended.

  • 3.

    To assemble empanadas, unroll pie crusts on lightly floured surface. Using 4-inch round cutter, cut each into 5 rounds for a total of 20 rounds. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of filling onto half of each round. Moisten edge of each with water. Fold in half; press edge with a fork to seal. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Pierce top of each with fork to vent.

  • 4.

    Bake in preheated 400°F oven 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Mix remaining 1/4 cup almonds with remaining 1 tablespoon fresno chilies. Sprinkle over empanadas. Serve with Charred Tomatillo Sauce.


Test Kitchen Tips: Fresno chilies are similar in size to the jalapeño pepper. When green they have a mild heat level. As they ripen and turn red, they become hotter. If unavailable, substitute jalapeño or serrano chilies.

Visit for 12 more flavours to watch in 2014 and to explore the future of flavour with inspired recipes, photos and video.

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