This cheesy one pot empanada rice takes all of my favorite components from classic Puerto Rican empanadas and makes them gluten free!
If you like this dish, you will love this classic Puerto Rican rice recipe as it has similar flavors and ingredients.
Love in Puerto Rico
When I first visited my mom's old neighborhood in Puerto Rico, I fell in love with the food first.
There were little bakeries and food stands on almost every street selling the most amazing treats. These bites 100% inspired this one pot empanada rice.
I don't have much of a sweet tooth so what I really fell for were the fried savory bites. Alcapurrias, tostones, murrados, pastels! And of course, the empanadas. I was obsessed (as I usually am with any new cuisine).
Luckily, my mom and I found an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant here in Beaverton, Oregon that does a pretty amazing job replicating these classic bites. Most of the menu items are naturally gluten free as they use lots of plantains and root veggies as opposed to flour.
The only problem? Empanadas are a dish classically made with flour. So after finding out about my allergies, I could no longer enjoy these in their true form. But the truth is, I always liked the filling more than the pastry on the outside anyway.
The obvious solution for me was to hack this dish into a super simple one pot empanada rice.
One Pot Empanada Rice
This dish has all the best components of an empanada: rice slow cooked with tomato sauce, ground beef, Spanish olives, heat from real peppers, fresh garlic, and of course some cheese for good measure.
The cheese is optional, not traditional, but totally worth it. Some might argue that the pastry is the best part of an empanada but this cheesy one pot empanada rice will have you asking: "who needs gluten?"