Root Vegetable Empanadas

Root Vegetable Emapanadas are a twist on the traditional empanada from Latin America. This portable, pocket-like food packs a lot of flavor, and highlights the seasonality of our favorite winter vegetables all in one bite.


Root Vegetable Empanadas


Root Vegetable Emapanadas are a twist on the traditional empanada from Latin America. This portable, pocket-like food packs a lot of flavor, and highlights the seasonality of our favorite winter vegetables all in one bite.


Plant Parts



Learning Environment

Teaching Kitchen

Prep Time

45 min


K - 2nd grade

Lesson Time

45 min

Common Core

Plant Parts

Role of Teacher

Classroom Management, Curricular Tie


Fall, Winter


Ingredients: 2 cups whole wheat flour / 3-5 Tbsp. water, chilled / 1 stick butter / 1 tsp. salt / 2 eggs / 1/4 cup sour cream / 1/2 cup olive oil / 1/2 cup pure maple syrup / 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar / 3-4 sprigs sage, minced / 2 cloves garlic, minced / 2 carrots, peeled & chopped / 1 parsnip, peeled & chopped / 3-4 mushrooms, chopped / 2 sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped / 1/2 onion, diced / 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Equipment: Cutting boards / Knives / Measuring cups & spoons / Mixing bowls / Whisk / Forks / Sheet Pan / Oven

Background Information

  • There are 6 major plants parts – roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Each part has its own primary and integral function that relates to the other parts. For example:
  • Roots: anchor the plant into the soil and absorbs water and minerals
  • Stems: transport water and nutrients to the rest of the plant
  • Leaves: absorb sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to make plant food
  • Flowers: responsible for producing fruit
  • Fruits: house seeds
  • Seeds: begin the life-cycle of the plant
  • Some plants have specially adapted roots that store energy so they can grow in the winter, in times of intense cold. We can eat these roots; they’re called root vegetables. Some examples of root vegetables are: beets, carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc.

Topics / Goals / Learning Objectives

  • Recall the 6 plant parts
  • Describe the function of the roots
  • Prepare root vegetable empanadas
  • Reinforce concepts of seasonality

Opening / hook

Welcome to the teaching kitchen, kindergartners. We have been learning about plant parts in the classroom and what plants need to grow big and strong. Today we will be exploring the roots of plants in particular. Some roots of plants we can eat – like beets, carrots, potatoes, and turnips. These root vegetables grow under the ground where they store the energy and nutrients plants need to grow. When we harvest them from the ground and eat them, we absorb the nutrients and energy and grow into healthy and strong people.

Our Recipe of the Month is Root Vegetable Empanadas. Empanadas are a dish traditionally from Latin America – countries like Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, etc. “Empanada” comes from the Spanish word “empanar,” which means to “coat or wrap in bread.” Normally, empanadas are cooked with various types of meat or cheese. We are going to make ours with root vegetables because they are “in season” or growing right now in the garden. We will stuff the root veggies into our emapanadas, so they are coated and wrapped in a yummy, dough-y outside.

Procedures / Activities

  1. Welcome students into the kitchen, have them wash hands, and take a seat.
  2. Introduce the Recipe of the Month, making connections to curriculum and seasonality.
  3. Go over proper knife skills (“bear claw”) and then have students begin working on chopping their vegetable into small pieces. Allow 10 minutes for students to finish their prep.
  4. Students bring their ingredients to the central countertop as they join the instructor. The teacher demonstrates how to dress the vegetables in the balsamic-maple glaze before popping it in the oven to bake.
  5. Highlight the root vegetables being used in the recipe. Typically, root vegetables hold a bitter flavor. Some people really love bitter tastes – like coffee or dark chocolate. For people who don’t like bitter, this glaze offers a sweet and savory taste that helps make the bitter better.
  6. Each station will now need a pre-rolled dough, a bowl of grated cheese, and prepared root vegetables. Students can now assemble their empanadas. They will fill the dough circles with cheese and root vegetables, fold the dough, and use a fork to crimp the edges for a seal.
  7. Pop the empanadas onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow the students to practice writing their names next to their empanadas. Bake at 375°F until the dough is crispy and golden. Enjoy!

Extensions / Adaptations / Games

  • Students can story-share about recipes of similar origin. For example, students of Caribbean descent may draw parallels to a beef patty or a traditional empanada with meat.

Lesson Resources

“Parts of a Plant” Video: BrainPOP Jr Video

Recipe: Root Vegetable Empanada Recipe Card