Comer Catibía (gluten free empanadas)

Well, my elementary Spanish would seem to translate this as “to eat cassava empanada”.  However, I learned that it is an idiom that actually means to put one’s foot into one’s mouth.  Who knew?  I promise you that this gluten free Dominican empanada tastes nothing like shoe leather.

I love empanadas . . ..  except for 1) how long they take to make, 2) the standard gluten flour thing, and 3) the greasiness of empanadas done badly.  It always seems more enjoyable to eat them when someone else has made them!  This recipe addresses the gluten-y and greasy part.  Sorry to say, they still take a while to make.  The bonus is that the dough is surprisingly easy to make.

Make a bunch, then freeze them.  They re-heat splendidly from frozen state in the oven (10 min in a preheated 375 F oven).

Make all your fillings first, then the dough.  This will make putting them together speedier.

Filling Options

Anything you like will be great.  Below are two options that I’ve used.  Bottom line:  fillings need to be pre-cooked.

Steak and Green Chiles (combine all and set aside)

  • 1 ½ C diced cooked steak
  • 1 small can of Hatch chiles
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 t lime juice

Vegetable Medley (combine all, sauté until cooked, set aside)

  • ½ C small diced sweet potato
  • ¼ C diced red onion
  • ¼ C diced mushrooms
  • ½ C small diced asparagus
  • 3 T butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ t ground cumin
  • ¼ t cumin seeds
  • ¼ t hot pepper flakes

For both:  1 C shredded pepper jack cheese to add to filling

The Dough (This is enough for 1 batch.   If you make both of the above fillings, you will need 2 batches.  I recommend that you make separate batches to avoid drying out.)

  • ½ C tapioca starch
  • ½ C cassava flour (alternatively, you can use 1 C of either of the above.)
  • 1 t xanthan gum powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Up to 1 C boiling water
  • Olive oil for rolling out dough


  • 2-3 C peanut oil or coconut oil (2 inches in a pot)

Method for Dough

  • Combine flours, salt, xanthan and mix well
  • Drizzle in olive oil and stir
  • Add ¼ C of hot water and stir, then add more water until dough forms a ball
  • Massage dough on an oiled board (with olive oil)
  • Cut into 8 pieces

Assembly and Frying

  • Roll a piece of dough on an oiled board.  Dip your fingers into the oil and moisten the dough and roller if needed prior to rolling. Make a circle of about 4 inches of dough.
  • Put 1 T or so of filling onto the dough.  Top with shredded jack cheese. 
  • Fold over in half.  Press down to seal, cutting away extra dough to make a nice half circle.  Use a fork to crimp the edges.
  • Poke fork into top to make holes.
  • Set aside until you have one batch.
  • Heat oil (test with a piece of dough to gauge heat) and fry empanadas in batches.  Do NOT crowd them.  You may just be able to do 3 at a time. 
  • Fry until browned a bit.  These will not brown up like regular flour empanadas.  But they will get crispy and golden. If you are waiting for them to get really brown, they will likely be overdone (and, yes, like shoe leather).
  • Drain on paper towels.

Serve with salsa and/or guacamole. I think even coconut aminos or a spicy mayonnaise would be good!

These are great freshly out of the fryer (cool enough to handle).  You can also freeze them and reheat on a sheet pan at 375 F (preheated oven) for 10 min.

Stay briny,



One Comment Add yours

  1. Carole Morgan says:

    They were delicious and was certainly a work of love to make


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