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Empanadas de Calabasa


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Empanadas de Calabasa


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Empanadas de Calabasa

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).


  • Prep Time : 45 min
  • Cook Time : 50 min
  • Ready Time : 1 hour, 35 min





    • 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.


    About Avi Levy


    Rabbi and Chef Avi Levy has been creating in the kitchen since he can remember. As a child he learned to cook everything from eggs and fish to BBQ, likely because his mother hated to be in the kitchen and it seemed the only way to get a meal he liked to eat.

    Avi worked his way through college as a kosher butcher as well as a chef in numerous restaurants and catering venues. He has always looked for ways to add some extra zest and spice to his dishes.


    He is married to a true Ashyet Chayal and together they are raising three wonderful children. Both Avi and his wife are Sephardic and trace their roots to Turkey.


    His signature dishes often combine a Spanish and tropical influences with American and Israeli traditions. He’s at home in the kitchen, at the grill or in front of a fryer. he's also chef, Rabbi and Bottle Washer at AvisKosherKitchen.com.


    As a film maker (Avi’s first profession) he has received numerous awards including Emmy’s and Tellys. His documentary work has been seen on PBS and NBC. He’s even worked with Julia Child.


    As a Rabbi, Avi received smicha from Rabbi Abraham Wosner and teaches regularly in South FLorida.


    Find Avi Here's where you can find Avi:

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/aviskosherkitchen

    Web: www.AvisKosherKitchen.com

    email: [email protected]




    8 Responses to Empanadas de Calabasa

    1. avatar says: NJRed

      can these be made ahead and frozen?

      • avatar says: Avi Levy

        Hi and Shana Tova all. I just saw the questions and Tamar is indeed correct. They freeze great and sometimes that’s exactly what we do.

        BTW: The leftovers are great in the morning with coffee.

    2. avatar says: Milca

      Thank you for the recipe!
      Can I make the empanadass and freeze them?

      • In case he doesn’t respond in time, I say yes!! Usually empanadas freeze great.

      • avatar says: Avi Levy

        Hi and Shana Tova all. I just saw the questions and Tamar is indeed correct. They freeze great and sometimes that’s exactly what we do.

        BTW: The leftovers are great in the morning with coffee or tea. Or just by themselves

    3. avatar says: Avi Levy

      Hi and Shana Tova all. I just saw the questions and Tamar is indeed correct. They freeze great and sometimes that’s exactly what we do.

      BTW: The leftovers are great in the morning with coffee.

    4. avatar says: Batsheva

      Would you recommend any type of sauce to go on top? I made these for Rosh Hashana and they were AMAZING! But I found myself craving more of the filling so I made it into a pie:) delish!

    5. avatar says: Avi Levy

      Hi Batsheva,

      Shana Tova. First of all, thank you for the nice words.

      For a pie, I usually put some whipped topping on it. I either make my own from cream, or use the parve whipped topping from the carton and then ‘doctor’ it up with some added vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.

      Another idea that I do on Thanksgiving is to deep fry the empanadas instead of baking them. Then just sprinkle powdered sugar on top. I love them this way as well.

      I hope this helps.

      Thanks and L’Chaim . . . Avi

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