Magenta Hand Pies with Spiced Lentils, Brown Butter Leeks + Goat Cheese
“Put That in Your Pocket” is a series of recipes showcasing the creative process of stuffing pockets full of leftovers to reduce food waste.
The bits and bobs from a quick refrigerator survey before you go out of town, before you need to make space for your new CSA (yes, #blessed), are also strong building blocks for a pragmatic pastry or a down-to-earth-dumpling. If it tastes good before you put it in a pocket, there is a solid chance it will be even better when you mix it with something else that also tastes good. Pockets also serve as a solid solution for forgotten produce in the back of your crisper, shriveled and softer than they should be, but not too far gone. Leftovers and stragglers can take on a whole new life wrapped up in a tender dumpling skin or a flaky pastry, and less food goes to waste all around.
Perishables in our fridge, before we leave town for 5 days:
- Purple sweet potatoes, roasted
- 1 big whole roasted beet
- A little over a cup of cooked lentils, spiced with whole cumin and coriander
- 2 sad leeks
- Not even half a glass of Pinot Grigio
- 2 opened, partially consumed packages of goat cheese
The leeks are gritty, so I chop those first and put them in a bowl filled with water to loosen up the dirt while I think about what to do with everything else. Purple sweet potatoes mashed with a deep red beet make a special shade of magenta. Stirring in the lentils with salt and pepper seems to be the simplest approach. Done. I skim the leeks from the top of the bowl full of water and marvel for a second at the amount of dirt that remains at the bottom, silently thanking an old boyfriend for teaching me that trick when I was 21, never having a thought about a leek before I moved to NYC in 2006. I melt 2 tablespoons of butter as I rinse the leeks one more time. The butter has browned by the time the leeks go into the saucepan with a big pinch of salt, and they cook for about 2 minutes before I empty the white wine into the pan and turn up the heat. Once the liquid is reduced, (about 5 minutes), I stir what remains of the leeks/brown butter/white wine into the sweet potato mixture. That all goes into the fridge while I roll out the dough.
The well-tested recipe for empanada dough from Epicurious is my go-to for hand pies and empanadas. I cut the dough into circles using a cocktail tumbler, which makes about 20 small hand pies-- just the right amount of dough-to-filling ratio this time around. I roll & cut the dough on a piece of parchment paper that will fit right onto a baking sheet. Each hand pie takes two pieces of round dough. A tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture onto one disc, topped with a sprinkle of goat cheese, then covered with another disc of dough. The tines of a dinner fork pressed around the edges seal each pie, tops pricked. The cookie sheet full of savory pies goes into the freezer for 20 minutes before I take it out and carefully place the pockets in a ziplock bag and put them back.
* For a clean-out-the-fridge situation like this, I never know exactly how much dough I'll need for filling. If I end up with extra, I will scour my fridge or pantry for any jam or fruit that needs to be cooked I can find and make sweet hand pies to freeze for later.