Hand pie, hot pocket, turnover — whatever you want to call it, these mini pies are the perfect snack, portable lunch, or single-serving dessert. Ever so versatile, they can be filled with sweet or savory goodness, deep fried, sauteed, or baked. Make a large batch and freeze the extra, or bring them to a potluck — who wouldn’t want their own mini pie that they don’t have to share?
It is rare that I ever see vegetarian versions of these, and I have been meaning to try making them myself. I was pleased to discover that while the process took a while, it was surprisingly easier than it sounded.
When making a turnover, you will want the dough to be nice and pliable, so it doesn’t tear or explode.
I used the same chickpea flour dough I made for my spinach pie the other day, which, though not perfect, as it easily tore, worked well enough. I didn’t experience any major mishaps. I think you could easily make this dough vegan and/or gluten-free as well. Just replace the butter with earth balance spread and the milk and yogurt with a vegan alternative, and replace the 3/4 cup AP flour with either 2/3 more of the chickpea flour or whatever equivalent amount of GF AP flour.
I don’t think the chickpea dough would taste very good in dessert variations, so if you want to go that route, I would be sure to seek out a dough recipe tested specifically for hand pies. Alton Brown has one that I have not tried myself but is well reviewed. Here is another.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with this. You can use a more traditional dessert pie filling, or just a simple combination of vegetables, seasoning, cheese, etc. Keep it simple and try thinking in terms of things you’re already familiar with — like spanakopita, stromboli, etc. I was inspired by samosas and came up with a curried vegetable filling.
Curried vegetable mini pies
For the filling:
1 medium onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup each of:
–finely minced carrot
–finely diced potato
–frozen cut green beans
1 chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder (freshly ground preferable)
1 tablespoon flour
Approximately 2 cups water or stock
Salt, pepper to taste
1 batch chickpea flour dough
Saute the onion in ghee or vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, curry powder, and some freshly ground black pepper, and saute until spices are fragrant. Add mixed vegetables and cook about 5 minutes, until they have softened.
Just barely cover veggies with water or stock, and simmer for 30 minutes. Thicken with a tablespoon of flour as necessary (I used the chickpea flour and it worked wonderfully). Season to taste with salt, and allow to cool before using.
While the mixture is simmering and/or cooling, make the mini pie circles.
Roll dough to about a half inch thickness and cut into circles with a 2-3 inch diameter. You can use the rim of a glass, a biscuit cutter, whatever you have.
Roll each of these circles as thinly as possible, to about a 5-6 inch diameter.
Place a scant tablespoon of filling into the middle of each round, carefully fold over and press together to seal, brushing on a layer of water if necessary. Crimp edges with the tines of a fork, and cut a slit or dock the top of the pie to vent.
Now they are ready to cook. You could deep fry them, pan fry them, or bake them. We decided to try both pan frying and baking.
To pan fry: heat a generous amount of oil in a skillet and saute pies for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
To bake: place on a baking sheet and into an oven preheated to 350 for about 30 minutes, until edges are nicely browned.
The pan fried pies were delightfully crisp. And in spite of some tearing, they sealed back together nicely in the pan. In fact, I practically ripped one in half while transferring it to the pan, but you couldn’t even tell when I removed it.
The imperfections were a bit more noticeable on the baked pies, though they still held together well enough to be transported. Though they lacked the crispy fried awesomeness of the others, they still tasted pretty darn good. And they’re a little easier on your stomach.
The pan fried ones came out so well I am not sure I would even bother with deep frying them.
This recipe took a while, but now my fridge is stocked with enough single-serving pies to last me all week. You could even freeze uncooked ones to make them as needed at a later date. Why buy the frozen kind when a fresh, homemade version can be whipped together on a Sunday night?