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Nona's Empanadas are a tribute to our Grandmother's, who preserved a culinary tradition from their ancestors and passed on their family recipes from one generation to another.
Our Nonas, who delighted us with their delicious food, because they were always seeking to nurture our bodies and our souls; their eyes glanced at us with such joy when they saw us eating the goodies they prepared with so much joy, enthusiasm and most importantly, love!
Our Co-founder's grandmother, Gilda, was from Greece, and he called her Nona, which is Greek for Grandmother. When visiting Nona, she would always have Boreka's waiting for him. Nona would make them using a dough crust and also using a filo dough crust. Our Cheese and Spinach and Beef Nona' s Empanadas are the two flavors that Nona would traditionally prepare.
Gilda's ancestors were originally from Spain, where they practiced Judaism. During the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th Century most of the Jewish people left Spain for the Mediterranean countries, including Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, where they continued to practice their religious faith and to speak Spanish. They also brought with them their recipes which were modified for the available ingredients in their new home countries.
It's believed that the Empanada originated in Spain and when the recipe was brought to Turkey, which had a filled turnover known as a Borek which the Spanish feminine "a" was added to become Boreka. We have found that almost every culture has some form of handheld turnover. Although, Mexico, Argentina and Chile seem to have become very well known for their Empanadas. The Pastel in Puerto Rico and the Philippines are also similar to the Empanada. The Spanish influence is clearly present in all these countries.
The word "Empanada" is derived from the Spanish verb "empanar", meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Nona's delicious fillings are encrusted in a homemade pastry dough made with butter and formed into a round circle. We then place one of our handmade fillings in the center of the dough round and fold it over sealing the edges. After this, we bake Nona's Empanadas in our convection oven.
In English Empanada translates as Turnover. Nona's Empanadas are an artisanal (made by hand) product, with honor and aloha for all our Nona's who taught us the art of baking and will always inspire us.
We began making Nona's Empanadas right after we moved to the Big Island from California in 2012, we made them for catering events. We also began selling them at local farmers markets where they were a hit. We decided to focus our efforts on baking and packaging our Nona's Empanadas so everyone in Hawaii can enjoy them.