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Savory Hand Pies with Greens, Olives and Feta

Close-up of small pocket pies with golden-orange pastry and a filling of cooked greens flecked with white cheese and dark olives, on a white plate with parsley in the background

There are several steps involved in making these hand pies, but once you have a batch prepared, you can freeze them for delicious grab-and-go lunches. (Payton Knobeloch)

Folded pastry pockets, turnovers or empanadas are found in many cultures. They make great grab-and-go meals, and are perfect for picnics or potlucks.

Almost “…any filling can be tucked into the folds of pastry, as long as it is not too moist,” notes Deborah Madison, Author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (where the inspriation for this recipe comes from).

These savory hand pies can be frozen for a month or so, baked or unbaked, just be sure to wrap them well before freezing. When you're ready to serve them, just bake them at 400F (allow more time since they will be frozen) or heat them up at 375F in the oven or toaster oven. 

These pocket pies are great on their own, and they are lovely dipped in a romesco sauce. 

Savory Hand Pies with Greens, Olives and Feta

For the pastry:

Flaky pie crust dough

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (add this to the pie crust dough)

For the filling:

10 cups Swiss chard leaves, beet greens or spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped 

2 bay leaves

¼ cup chopped parsley

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ cup pitted olives such as Kalamata-coarsely chopped

¾  cup crumbled feta cheese

1 beaten egg

salt and freshly milled pepper

When you make the dough, add the paprika to the flour. Divide it into 15 pieces and roll each into a 3-4 inch circle. If you prefer, you can roll the dough out and cut circles with a cutter. Set the dough circles on a sheet pan (if you stack them, separate with wax paper or parchment)  and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 400F. 

Wash the greens but don’t dry them. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, bay leaves, parsley and pepper flakes until the onion begins to brown a bit about 4 minutes. Add the greens. If you have a lid for the skillet, place on top of the pan for a few minutes so the greens can steam.  Remove the lid and cook until they’re tender, 8 to 12 minutes, turning them with the tongs as they cook. If there is a lot of moisture when they’re done, drawing and press it out with the back of a spoon. Finely chop the greens, then mix them with the olives and half of the beaten egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Remove the dough circles from the fridge. Holding a dough circle in your hand, brush one half of the circle’s edge with beaten egg. Place a tablespoon of filling on the lower half then fold the pastry over and seal the edges with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining circles. Brush the tops with the remaining egg. If the dough has become soft, place the sheet pan of hand pies back into the fridge or freezer to chill for 10-15 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temp.

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