Black Bean & Corn Turnovers

These little pups have quite a few things going for them:

  • They’re vegetarian
  • They’re made with whole grains, beans, vegetables, and cheese: a nutritionally-complete little package
  • They’re perfect for Nap Time Cooking
  • You can eat them with one hand (parents of infants understand why this is important)
  • If you’ve stocked the New Mom’s Pantry, you’ve got pretty much everything you need right now
  • They’re cute (and we all know looks count!)

They were born out of boredom. I had defrosted a package of whole-wheat pizza dough (I like the one Trader Joe’s sells in the refrigerated section), but somehow the thought of making a plain old pizza—even one with varied, what’s-in-the-fridge toppings—left me feeling downright blah. I’ve been daydreaming a lot about turnovers lately: empanadas, calzones, quesadillas, borekas. The time was ripe to give this unassuming dough a new purpose.

After a quick survey of the pantry, I sensed a theme: There was corn in the freezer, black beans and salsa in the cabinet, and red peppers and cheddar cheese in the fridge. Together, these basic ingredients would make something vaguely Latin American—an empaNOda, to quote Stephen. And so, dinner was born.

From the time I opened the pantry doors to the time I pulled the lovely, browned bundles from the oven, barely an hour passed. And if you use my Nap Time Cooking method and break up the steps into smaller chunks, they practically make themselves.

Well, not really, but they’re easy easy easy.

Black Bean & Corn Turnovers
Serves 4

Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted (under running water or in the microwave)
your favorite salsa—I like a smokier one for this
flour, for dusting
1 package whole-wheat pizza dough (I like Trader Joe’s), at room temperature
½ cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
1 egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 425 and make sure the rack is in the center. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or aluminum foil coated with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat a glug or two of olive oil. When it’s hot, add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the red peppers, and cook until they soften. Empty into a large mixing bowl, and add the black beans and corn. Add as much salsa as you need—you want it to be moist, but not wet.

Dust your clean counter lightly with flour, and put the pizza dough on it. Using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out the pieces one at a time, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Place about two tablespoons of the bean-corn mixture on one half of each rolled-out piece—you want to make sure it’s not so much that you can’t fold over the dough and seal them. These were a little overstuffed:

(You’ll have filling left over. I ate it as a salad for lunch the next day!)

I got a little fancy, doing a rolled-over crust to close them up, but the easiest thing is to fold the dough over on itself and use the tines of a fork to seal the two edges together. Brush the tops with the egg/water mixture.

Put them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the tray around after about 8 minutes to ensure they bake evenly.

To use the Nap-Time Cooking method, chop the onions and peppers, sauté them, and combine with the beans/corn/salsa during one nap. Fill, close, and bake during another. Just remember to turn on the oven about 20 minutes beforehand.