Butternut Squash and Feta Hand Pies
Winter appears to be in full force. If we used the recipes I’ve shared most recently on the blog as a barometer of my feelings on this, I’m clearly all over the place.
I was clearly in denial on both of these days–but for the most part, I’m trying to embrace it (while secretly fearing it will carry into the month of April, aka. our wedding), soak up the last of winter produce, and remind myself that I will only feel like cranking up my oven for so much longer.
Butternut squash might be on its way out soon, so I figured it should go out with a bang! And let’s face it, if you’re going to go out with a bang, you might as well involve a buttery homemade pie dough. Right?
Butternut squash has made its appearance on the blog more times than, well, ever this past year. I put it on top of sandwiches, roasted it with Brussels sprouts and tossed it with a simple vinaigrette, pureed it into a creamy soup, and even stuffed it into guacamole.
It was about time that I stuffed it into flaky pie dough. These things just need to happen. And while you’re at it, cheese should probably be incorporated in some way or another.
When most people think of the word ‘pie’, fruits and berries, and all things summer, come to mind. Not that there is anything wrong with that (whatsoever), but savory pies do not get a ton of love in the culinary world.
Let’s change that.
I’ve been on a mission to share a savory pie for a while now. The idea came to me in several different forms (an Indian samosa pie still needs to happen), and then eventually settled on savory hand pies.
If there is anything more fun than traditional pie, it is hand pies. Hand pies are basically classy (much better-tasting) versions of pop tarts. Miniature, portable food is always more fun!
For whatever reason, butternut squash was an obvious filling choice for me. It is slightly sweet, doesn’t contain a lot of moisture (the last thing you want is soggy, falling-apart hand pies!), and goes well with so many different things. To cook the squash quickly, I chose my favorite cooking method: roasting.
To add some contrast in flavor, I also added red onions (any type of onion would work!). The onions caramelize during the roasting process, and add a lovely, (delicate) bitterness to the final dish.
I took inspiration from one of my favorite dishes (and earliest blog recipes), and chose to add tangy, salty feta cheese to round everything out. If you’ve never paired butternut squash with feta before, I promise that you will be more than pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
While individual hand pies take a bit more work and time (this is definitely a weekend project–yet they could be stored for a weeknight dinner!), but the steps can be broken up and the filling (and well as the pie dough) can be prepped ahead of time.
Today’s pie dough is one of my favorite recipes.
It is very forgiving, and comes together quickly. Although there are several different opinions on the best way to prepare pie dough, I’m a huge fan of using a food processor. It speeds up the process tremendously and helps prevent you from over-working or over-handling the dough. It also helps produce a consistently textured dough, which in my humble opinion, is even more essential for hand pies.
Whatever you do, don’t be intimidated by the length of today’s recipe! Brevity is not my strong-suit, I know, but I tried to be as detailed as possible in order to make the assembly as clear and easy-to-follow as possible.
Although these butternut squash and feta hand pies make a perfect snack on their own (they even taste great cold!), they would be wonderful paired with a simple salad for lunch, homemade soup, or taken and eaten on-the-go!
Butternut Squash and Feta Hand Pies
- 1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1 lb butternut squash, trimmed, peeled (seeds removed) and cut into 1/2" chunks
- 1/2 red onion, large dice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 whole egg, beaten
Prepare Pie Dough:
- Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a large food processor. Pulse several times to mix thoroughly.
- Add the butter, and pulse several times until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the texture resembles that of a coarse meal---you want the butter pieces to be in varying sizes, some small and others slightly larger. This will result in the flakiest crust.
- While pulsing, slowly add the water and continue to pulse until the dough just begins to clump together loosely.
- Remove the dough to a clean counter top, shape together with your hands into a square disc, and cover tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until firm (dough can be prepared up to three days in advance).
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place butternut squash and red onion onto a large baking sheet, and toss with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly onto the baking sheet.
- Roasted vegetables for 20 to 28 minutes, tossing with a wooden spoon every 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and have begun to caramelize. Set onto a rack to cool completely. Place into a small bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the egg in a small bowl, and set it aside with a pastry brush. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the pie dough from the fridge, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Once it has rested, place the dough on a lightly floured counter top or floured pastry cloth.
- Using a lightly dusted rolling pin, roll the dough into a square that is slightly larger than 12-inches x 12-inches (don't worry if the edges are not perfectly straight). Using a pastry cutter or knife, trim the rough edges. Using a pastry cutter, cut the dough into 3-inch x 4-inch rectangles. **The easiest way to do this is to notch the dough (3-inch intervals on top and bottom, and 4-inch intervals on both sides) using a knife or pastry cutter. Use a ruler to line up the notches, and cut the down into rectangles, this will make it much easier.
- Place six rectangles on the parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Place the other rectangles (on a seperate) baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator while you work. Using a spoon, portion the butternut squash and onion filling into the center of each rectangle (six rectangles in total), pressing down slightly to compact the filling into a mound--and leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle the tops of the squash and onion with feta, dividing it evenly among the pies.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the border lightly with egg wash. Remove the remaining top dough rectangles from the fridge. Using the rolling pin, roll each top rectangle dough until they are slightly larger than the bottom rectangles of dough (this will help cover the filling). Place each rectangle on top of the filling-top rectangles. Use a fork to crimp the borders of the dough and seal the pies (dip the fork in flour to prevent it from sticking). Brush the tops of the pies lightly with egg wash; use a sharp knife to make two 1/2-inch slits into the center of the tops of each pie. Chill the pies in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pies from the refrigerator and bake at 375 degrees (F) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Place the pies on a cooling rack until warm enough to handle. Pies are best served warm from the oven; but can also be served cold (or reheated in the oven before serving).
Hand pies can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container. To reheat, bake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.
Pie dough adapted from here.
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