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{All Around Latin America} The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Spain in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Fried Chicken Olive Empanadas - The Duo Dishes It’s hardly believable that I’m now in my third year of featuring {All Around Latin America}, a deliciously exciting two-week food series where my friends and I exploring plates and trends around Latin America in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. In the two previous years, I’ve done this fun series, we’ve met amazing food bloggers who have a passion from their native country and were eager to share some of their favorite stories in the kitchen with a beloved recipe. We’ve seen dishes hailing from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, and Cuba, of course. 

This year, I decided to feature some of the same food bloggers from before because I fundamentally believe in their approach to their cuisine. But I also extended it to non-Latinos who have a ferver and commitment to learning more about our food and aren’t afraid to explore something novel. I’ve kicked off the series in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, but for the next two weeks through Oct. 15th, we’ll have a fabulous and mouth-watering receta you’ll want to make. Plus, you’ll get a quick insider’s look to a special place you may not have been to before. Places that may not fall under the PC category of Latin America, like Spain. After all, we were mostly colonized by the Spanish and so our food is the Americas’ interpretation of the foundation. 

It’d be fitting to start with España, a country I deeply love and have just returned from visiting with my boyfriend. But, let’s hear what my good friend Chrystal from The Duo Dishes, and no stranger to Flanboyant Eats, shares with us on her findings of Spanish food! 

I hope you enjoy the food series and happy to kick it off with these yummy tapas! Welcome, Chrystal! 

Come back tomorrow for a feature from the Dominican Republic.  


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Sunday, September 15 marked the first official day of Hispanic Heritage Month, and it continues through Tuesday, October 15. My friend Bren of Flanboyant Eats is celebrating the month with a showcase of guest posts from  food bloggers, which is quite fitting, wouldn’t you agree? It was high time for an Ethnic Exploration post to continue our series, so the timing seemed to line up quite well. During the winter of 2011, I spent about a week in Barcelona, and of course, the majority of my meals were full of tapas. Many evenings, my friends and I would find ourselves with a table full of plates and glasses of Cava or sangria. With the memory of Barcelona in my mind, I decided to make empanadas at home. Although this is not the first time we have explored a recipe with strong Spanish roots (check out our alfajores), this one is a savory creation rather than a dessert.

What I remember most about my trip to Barcelona was the good food. Amir wasn’t along for the ride, but I’m sure he’ll make his way to Spain again in due time. My friends and I rented an apartment in El Borne–a quiet, quaint section of the city known for its strong cultural flair. We were in walking distance to so many great restaurants just down the street from our apartment, and if we couldn’t walk there, we would just hop on the metro. Our tapas meals were often a mix of the same types of dishes, including tortilla española, chorizo and patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy, creamy sauce), as well as a few that you may not have had before–buñuelos  de bacalao (salt cod fritters), mejillones (mussels), pimientos de padron (pan-fried Padron peppers) and habas a la catalana (broad beans with Ibérico ham in olive oil). Last but not least, there were empanadas.

Various Barcelona Tapas - The Duo Dishes

A linguistic breakdown of the word empanada will tell you the basics about what they are. You’ll notice the word pan, Spanish for bread, nestled in the middle of the word. If you know the Spanish verb  empanar, then you the word that means “to wrap with bread” is also in there. Empanadas are baked or fried pockets of dough stuffed with meat, seafood, cheese,  vegetables or fruit, making them a carb lover’s delight. Even if you have never had a Spanish-style empanada, perhaps you’ve had an Indian samosa, Greek spanakopita,  Jamaican patty, Afghani bolani, Italian calzone  or British pasty. Various cultures have their own similar dishes, but they go by different names. What makes Spanish empanadas stand out from the many varieties worldwide is that they are regarded  as the origin of the turnover thanks to the Galicians in the northwestern corner of the country. Hundreds of years ago, Galician empanadas were large and sliced into pieces, and today they have evolved into individual servings.

Filling and Shaping Empanadas - The Duo Dishes

So here we are. Spanish-style empanadas. This recipe begins with a version of sofrito–the onion, peppers and garlic are sautéed in olive oil, but this sofrito does not require the tomatoes to be cooked unless you are using fresh tomatoes. The filling includes smoky cumin, earthy coriander and rich smoked paprika, or pimentón. If you can get your hands on Spanish paprika, please do so! Pimentón agridulce is the star in this mix. It is deep red in color and straddles the line of between the respective sweet and spicy blends of Spanish paprika on the market. Paprika is such a treasured element of Spanish cooking that it was the first aromatic spice to be labeled with a denomination of origin, naming Murcia and La Vera as the top producers of high quality paprika. The other key player in this recipe is Manzanilla olives. These olives originated in Sevilla, but they are now grown in other areas of the country, as well as in my current state of California. They have a mild, fruity flavor in terms of olives, and they can be whole, pitted or stuffed with pimento peppers. Be sure to grab pitted olives, or you will have to remove the pits yourself.

Frying Chicken Olive Empanadas - The Duo Dishes

Final Chicken & Olive Empandas - The Duo Dishes

Serve these empanadas warm or at room temperature with a simple salad. Don’t forget the wine. Perhaps a glass of Because empanadas are easy to adapt, the filling options are endless. They are a simple and easy way to have a taste of Spain in your home any night. Consider this to be a thankful and delicious nod to Hispanic Heritage Month.

About my friends, Chrystal and Amir:

We are Chrystal and Amir, otherwise known as the Duo–two passionate eaters, experimental cooks and college friends based in Los Angeles, California. We mix family traditions, regional fare and new ethnic flavors to create dishes that emphasize our love for a quick fix meal or an elaborate feast. We have been featured on NPR.org, The LAist.com, CulturePOP.com, and KTLA.com, in addition to working with national and international brands–Bertolli and Alexia Foods–for recipe development projects. We have also been featured in three cookbooks, radio programs and several online interviews. For more of our recipes, check out The Duo Dishes. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

*This is part of an annual Hispanic Heritage Month food series, now in its 3rd year. Catch up on this years and previous delicious features: 


How do you celebrate this culturally inspiring month?

*all images courtesy of The Duo Dishes except for series logo.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

Follow the sexy & delicious fun on


follow Bren Herrera on Pinterest

Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!


Chicken and Olive Empanadas 

Approximately 20-24


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 Kappia peppers (or 2 medium red bell peppers), diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces canned tomatoes with chilies, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed Manzanilla olives, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 empanada wrappers*
  • 3-4 cups olive oil


1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Once hot, add the onions and peppers, cooking for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions turn translucent. Stir as necessary. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.

2. Stir in the drained tomatoes and chilies, tomato sauce, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. Once combined, add the olives, chicken, parsley and salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to cool completely.

3. Once the filling is cool, place about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture into the middle of an empanada wrapper. Line half of the outer edge with a little water, then fold the other side on top of the filling. Turn over the edges or crimp with a fork to close. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

77 thoughts on “{All Around Latin America} The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Spain in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

  1. Thanks for featuring us today! Happy to share with your readers. 🙂 Neither one of us has been to Central or South America, but hopefully there will be a day when we can experience a few of Latin American dishes you can find here in L.A. in their country of origin. That would be amazing!

  2. These little guys are so good. I could eat like 20 and still not be satisfied! lol.. #fatboytendencies

  3. Empanadas are soooo good! I enjoyed this post by Duo Dishes. Great reminder that their are similar in all cultures, but I do believe these are one of the best.

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