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Empanadas de Calabasa

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Empanada de Calabasa2

Enjoy these Turkish Borekas/Empanada with pumpkin filling. They make a perfect appetizer and a Rosh Hashanah Siman. “May it be your will, L-rd our G-d, and G-d of our Fathers, to tear up our evil decree and let out see our merits before you.” The Hebrew word for a gourd or squash is Kere similar to the word for tear – kria.
The dough or masa as it’s called, is different in Turkish borekas than the flaky fillo dough found in most borekas. The Turkish dough is more like an empanada, it’s really wonderful and is something I grew up with. My Turkish grandfather would make all sorts of borekas in his home in Philadelphia and then send down ‘care packages’ to us in Florida.
Anyway, you can make your own dough or just buy some premade sambusak dough, usually found in the freezer case of your local kosher store. It’s close but not the real deal. Here’s the recipe for the masa (boreka dough).

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  • 12 ServingsServings



  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups of flour

The filling

  • About 30 ounces of pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2-cups of brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of parve almond or soy milk
  • Dash or two of salt


For the dough:

Put the oil, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Allow it cool and when warm to the touch, add all of the flour and mix thoroughly. Take small walnut or golf ball size pieces form the dough and roll them out into flat rounds on some parchment paper. If you don’t have a rolling pin you can use a can or a sturdy glass.

For the filling:

The filling is made with either fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree. This time of year it may be difficult, if not impossible to get fresh pumpkins. However, Libby’s canned pumpkin puree is kosher.

If you have a fresh pumpkin, simply cut it into fourths, scoop out all the seeds, (they can be roasted later for a healthy snack) and place in a 375-degree oven on a slightly oiled cookie sheet for about a half an hour until the ‘meat’ of the pumpkin is soft. Then let cool and when you can handle the pumpkin scrap out all of the ‘meat’ into a pot and use the rind for compost.

Once you have either the fresh pumpkin or are using 2 fifteen-ounce cans of pumpkin puree get them into a pot. Add all of the filling ingredients except the ‘milk’ to the pumpkin puree. Slowly add the milk until the mixture is creamy and let them mingle together over low to medium low heat until blended. You can feel free to adjust measurements to your taste. If you want to kick it up a bit you can add a shake of ginger or cardamom, or both if you’re daring.

Now just add a dollop or so of the filling to one side of the dough rounds. Then fold over the other half of the dough to make a “half-round” with the filling in the middle. Seal the overlapping edges with a pastry wheel or the tines of a fork. Lightly brush the tops with a beaten egg and then bake on either a lightly greased cookie sheet or on parchment paper (my preferred method) on a cookie sheet in a 375-degree oven until golden, about 30-45 minutes. But keep a close eye on them; you do not want these to burn.

They can be served warm or cold. The leftovers make a great snack and a great mini-dessert. They’re also great in the morning with a cup of coffee.

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