Mary-Linh Tran

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

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This article is part of our monthly issue “All That Inspires”, a playful look into how we bring inspiration from around the world and our immediate surroundings into our own kitchens—whether through specific ingredients or traditional recipes, new techniques or viral trends. Check out this link to find an overview of all our weekly topics, stories, and recipes—and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for behind the scenes, extras, and more!

For those that know me, it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of empanadas. In a time pre-covid, when I would make the annual trek from Germany to the northwestern tip of the US to visit family—a voyage that totals anywhere between 14 and 22 hours—I always lugged along a tupperware stuffed with homemade empanadas. So when I came across Meera Sodha’s Bombay rolls, an ingenious interpretation of a Mumbai street food staple, I couldn’t help but wonder, could this mash-up work with empanada ingredients?

The answer? A resounding and resolute yes. These chimichurri rolls are like my favorite empanadas, only deconstructed and simplified. Studded with olives, grated sharp cheddar, and thinly sliced red onion, think of them like the savory counterpart to a sticky cinnamon bun, except they’re made with store-bought puff pastry for a textural experience that takes you from crisp and flaky to soft and squishy. The bright chimichurri filling may not be the traditional sauce for an empanada but it packs a flavorful punch that intensifies the individual characteristics of each ingredient. Cheesy, salty, and buttery, these buns are how I imagine sleeping under a weighted blanket must feel.

What’s chimichurri?

This vibrant and vinegary sauce hails from Argentina, but has spilled over into other South American cuisines, namely Uruguayan. It’s as easy to make as throwing fistfuls of herbs, chili flakes, garlic, vinegar, and oil into a mortar and pestle (or a food processor) and will keep in the fridge, improving just about anything else you eat, for up to two weeks.

Although it’s classically used as a marinade for grilled meats, its mosaic of flavors—garlicky, citrusy, salty, earthy, and extremely acidic—lends itself incredibly well to dishes well beyond meat. Rub chimichurri into vegetables before tossing them into the oven. Smear a slice of crusty bread with it. Dollop it over soups. Fold a few spoonfuls into mashed potatoes or rice to lift dull carbs to new heights. Think of chimichurri as the one size fits all of sauces and think of these rolls as a celebration of its versatility.

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

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A recipe that embraces acidity

Many of our favorite foods contain acidity (coffee, chocolate, wine, et al) and yet, as a flavor enhancer, we often forget about it, reaching instead for more salt and pepper when a squeeze of lime or splash of mirin could do the job much better. This recipe brings acidity to the forefront with briny black olives and a cascade of tangy red wine vinegar, sharpening each ingredient with every mouthful.

A cheesy roll for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

It has been 446 days since I’ve last seen my family—and counting—so my empanada production has stalled. Despite the uptick in kitchen activity to ward off spiraling into anxiety-oblivion, I just haven’t been able to justify baking a big batch of empanadas, knowing there’s no one on the other side of the table to eat them (plus, we have limited freezer space in my home). These chimichurri rolls are my solution to that. They have all the warmth and coziness of my favorite comfort food, but with an unexpected twist that’s super easy to make and doesn’t require a whole family to finish off. With the help of store-bought pastry, melty cheese, salty olives, and a generous coat of chimichurri, these savory rolls are the perfect companion for any time of the day.

Cheesy chimichurri rolls

Cheesy chimichurri rolls

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