One can never have too many zucchini recipes at this time of year, can one? What are your favorites?
I could probably eat zucchini every day of my life without ever getting tired of it. My sister, on the other hand, is not a fan. But she surprised herself by loving it in these little hand pies. I made these for her because she just had her baby (I’m an auntie!!!), and they are such an easy grab-and-go food. They were useful to have on hand in the lead-up to her labor, when we didn’t have time to cook and needed something quick and easy to eat. You can also freeze them and just heat them up in the toaster oven whenever you need them.
These hand pies are very hard for anyone to resist: the dough is light and flaky as can be and the filling is cheesy and gooey. They are best when eaten warm so the dough is at its flakiest and the cheese is melted.
When making hand pies, the main challenge is a structural one: how to keep the filling from spilling out of the edges as it bakes. There are two main tips to follow to prevent this from happening. The first is to make sure the filling isn’t too watery. It’s therefore important to squeeze as much water as possible out of the grated zucchini. The second is to make sure the edges of the hand pie are well sealed together so the filling doesn’t ooze out during baking. I will explain how to do both in more detail in the recipe directions.
Feel free to use your own favorite pie dough recipe. I adapted Bojon Gourmet’s flakiest all-butter pie dough recipe, and though time-consuming, I went through all the additional but optional steps she recommends to achieve maximum flakiness. I was thrilled to wind up with a crust so flaky it bordered on puff pastry. Though I’ve also made these without going through those additional steps and the crust is still wonderfully flaky.
Let me know if you make these, I think you’ll love them!
Zucchini Cheddar Hand Pies
- For the Filling:
- 2 cups grated zucchini (loosely packed, about 3 medium-small zucchinis)
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar (loosely packed)
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
- 2 Tbsp whole milk yoghurt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Dash of black pepper
- For the Dough (Adapted from Bojon Gourmet)
- 1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1 cup light spelt flour (or whole wheat)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
- 1/4 cup ice cold water (additional ice water may be needed)
- For the Egg Wash (Optional)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp water
- To make the dough, mix the flours with the salt together in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the cold cubed butter into the flour until the largest pieces of butter are the size peas. Whisk the yoghurt and ice water together, and then incorporate into flour mixture, using a wooden spoon or spatula. Mix the dough and continue adding more ice water, a little at a time, just until the dough comes together into a ball. I usually end up adding an additional 1/4 cup of ice water, but it depends on the type of flour you use. The dough should be just moist enough to come together into a ball, but not so wet that it is sticky when you handle it. Do not over-mix the dough. Shape the dough into two balls, flatten into discs, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
- (Optional: If you've got some time on your hands and want to take your pie crust to the next level of fabulous flakiness, you can do two additional steps called fraisage and roll-fold-roll. These are explained in full detail at Bojon Gourmet. They will turn your dough almost into a puff pastry. But if you don't have time for them, don't worry, your pie crust will still be perfectly flaky as is.)
- While your dough is chilling in the fridge, make the filling by grating the zucchinis on the medium-sized holes of a box grater. After you have about 3 to 4 cups, place in a bowl, and mix in the salt. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes, giving time for the salt to draw out the liquid. Now take small batches of grated zucchini at a time, and using both hands, squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Discard the liquid and measure the zucchini again, after the water's been squeezed out. You should end up with 2 cups (don't pack it down).
- Place the zucchini and all the remaining filling ingredients into a medium bowl and mix together well.
- After 30 to 60 minutes in the fridge, remove the dough discs and sprinkle some flour on your countertop and rolling pin. Roll each disc into a large rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut this large rectangle into about 6 (maybe 8) smaller rectangles measuring very roughly 4 (or 5) x 6 inches each. Place about 1 1/2 Tbsp of filling on one half of each rectangle. Brush a little water around the edges of the rectangle, and fold the rectangle in half, covering the filling. Press the edges together well to seal. Using a spatula, transfer the pies to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. After refrigeration, use the tines of a fork to further press the edges together, creating a nice decorated edge. Slice two vent holes into the top of each pie. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden, at 375 F.
Yield: 12-16 servings
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.