Harvest and Hand Pies 

When I come in from the kitchen garden with baskets of vegetables, I often pull out a cookbook or two from the collection that lines kitchen island shelves and open the index pages to look for ideas for what to cook.  Favorite authors like Deborah Madison, Alice Waters, Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater, Marcella Hazan can all get me started on dinner. Sometimes, though, I pass by the cookbooks and turn to the computer, type in the names of vegetables in the basket and see what comes up.  I’ll never abandon my cookbooks, but this electronic recipe searching is especially useful and quick when I have a couple of vegetables that I’d like to cook together in a new way.  

I’d just harvested the last of the winter carrots, still fresh, sweet, and colorful after months under a foot of hay mulch, and the last of the leeks, still vibrant white and green.

They’d be lovely sautéed together in a vegetable side dish, maybe mixed with rice, or puréed together in a soup. But I was thinking pastry, maybe a vegetable galette.

Typing in carrot and leek tart, I found links to half a dozen tasty sounding tarts, a couple from authors I recognized, but the link that most intrigued me was to a recipe for Carrot, Leek and Goat Cheese Hand Pies.  It was on a playful-looking blog titled Eats Well With Others.  The recipe describes creating a filling of sautéed leeks, roasted carrots and goat cheese, and wrapping portions in pastry to create hand pies. It seemed like a new and perfect way to use the last baskets of beautiful carrots and leeks. And a nice coincidence was the author’s acknowledgement that the recipe was from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas, renowned Seattle chef.  I checked with my friend Kathy who has this cookbook and she agreed that the hand pies sounded yummy.  They are!

There are several things I like about this recipe. It’s clearly written and very easy to follow despite the many steps. The technique of puréeing half of the roasted carrots then mixing this purée with the remaining diced, roasted carrots and the sautéed leeks, makes a filling that holds together when assembling the hand pies and when eating them.  And there was just the right amount of pastry and filling to make six pies. The pies also reheat beautifully.  

If I’d had The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle on my shelf, I might not have needed the Internet to find this recipe, but now that I’ve found it, I’ll look for the cookbook and see what other savory pies it offers.  Cookbooks and the Internet will both continue to inspire me.

Savory Carrot, Leek, and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

Savory hand pies filled with sweet roasted carrots, buttery leeks and creamy goat cheese encased in the flakiest whole wheat crust.

For the whole wheat pastry dough

  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½-inch dice
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling

  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts finely chopped
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup + 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 2½ lb multi colored carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4½ oz goat cheese, crumbled and divided into 6 portions

For the egg wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold water

For the whole wheat pastry dough

  1. Place the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the butter and pulse again, just until the butter is broken down into pea-sized pieces. Add in the sour cream and pulse again, 2-3 times. Add in ¾ cup of the ice water and pulse another 2-3 times. Remove the lid from the food processor and check to see if the dough has come together and will clump once you press it together. If it does, you are done. If it feels dry or just crumbles when you try to press it together then add more cold water, a tbsp at a time, and pulse again to incorporate it.
  2. Gather the dough together and pat into a rectangle about 5×6 inches. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

For the pies

  1. Heat oven to 425F.
  2. Heat the butter and 2 tsp of the olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the leek and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the water to the pan and swirl to combine. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook until the leeks are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Place the carrots in a bowl with the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Toss to combine. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the garlic and thyme. Place back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, stirring again at the halfway point. Remove from the oven. 
  1. Place half of the roasted carrot-garlic mixture in the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer the carrot purée to a bowl and mix with the remaining carrots and leeks until well combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.  (The purple carrots dominate the color here, making the mix look more like beets than carrots, but it’s carrots that flavor the filling.)
  1. Unwrap the chilled dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Divide it into 6 equal-sized pieces. Roll out one portion of the dough into an 8.5 x 6-inch rectangle. Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough. (A handy measuring template Scott suggested is to fold an 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper in half.)
  1. Lower oven to 375F.
  2. Place one of the dough rectangles onto a floured work surface with the short edge facing you. Make the egg wash by beating together the egg yolk and the water. Use a pastry brush to brush a one-inch border around the edges of the dough.
  3. Place ½ cup of the carrot-leek filling off-center on the rectangle of dough. Push down the filling with the back of a spoon so that it is flat. Top with one portion of the cheese. Fold the short edge of the dough over the filling and use a fork to crimp the edges shut. Repeat with remaining hand pies. 
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 3 pies on each sheet. Brush with the egg wash and use a knife to cut a few slits in each pie. Place int he oven and bake until golden brown and hot, about 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.