This post has been prompted by someone commenting on one of our Facebook ads that Panini Pies are just round empanadas. While Panini Pies and empanadas do share some similarities, such as their portable size, capacity to be filled with a variety of ingredients, and ability to be eaten hand-held, there are also some key differences that set them far apart.
One major difference is the type of
dough used. Panini pies are made from bread dough, which contain just a few simple ingredients: high protein flour, water, yeast, and is very versatile. This dough can be made with or without eggs, which allow for using it in vegan recipes.
Empanadas, on the other hand, are traditionally made from pastry dough, which requires more specialized ingredients and techniques. The dough is typically made from flour, fat, and water, and may also include other ingredients like eggs or vinegar to achieve the desired texture and flavor. The use of fat, such as butter or lard, is what gives empanada dough its characteristic flakiness. While it is possible to make vegan empanadas using alternative fats, achieving the same flaky texture and delicious flavor as traditional empanadas can be challenging.
Another difference between the two is the way they are cooked. Panini pies are typically baked in the oven, while empanadas can be cooked in a variety of ways. Empanadas can be baked in the oven, cooked on a griddle, or deep-fried. In some Latin American countries, deep-fried empanadas are a traditional way of cooking them, which gives them a crispy exterior and a tender, juicy filling. However, baking empanadas in the oven is a healthier option that can result in a lighter, flakier crust.
Finally, the fillings of panini pies and empanadas differ as well. While panini pies are filled with ingredients, which are not pre-cooked: all natural meats, eggs, vegetables, and cheese go inside raw and are being cooked while a panini pie is baked. As a result, they keep all their nutrients and texture, and you can always tell different components of the fillings apart. Empanadas, on the other hand, are typically filled with already cooked meats or vegetables, which appear as one single mass. In vegan panini pies we use only vegetables and tofu as a source of proteins using various spices to create unique delightful flavors. We do not try to imitate meat or other not-vegan flavors, believing that people who choose vegan life style do not need artificial replacements for meats and other vegetable products, which usually at the price of over-processing. We believe that the taste of vegetables and spices is sufficient to fill tofu with original and delightful flavors and texture.