Photos and story by Julie Van Rosendaal
Harvest season is pie season, with so much produce at its peak at the same time, affordable and abundant, begging to be piled into pastry. And while fall brings to mind mile-high apple and spiced pumpkin pies, it’s also the perfect time for savoury pies — interesting combinations of meat and veg you can wrap in pastry and bring straight from the oven to the table for a single-dish dinner.
When considering savoury pies, chicken pot and shepherd’s may come to mind, but potential filling combinations are as limitless as they are for the dessert variety. Generally speaking, savoury pies have fillings that are pre-cooked before being turned into their pastry-lined plates, which makes them simple to pull off — there’s little concern over cooking time or sliceability. If you don’t want to slice yours at all, a pot pie requires only a lid; spoon any stew-like mixture into a baking dish, top with regular or puff pastry, cut a few steam holes and bake until bubbly and golden, then serve with a spoon. Yes, it still counts as pie.
Another shortcut that doesn’t produce a lesser pie: galette-style free-form pies you can bake on a sheet (or in a pie plate, if you want more support around the sides). They can be assembled using traditional or thawed puff pastry, require no trimming or crimping, and though tomatoes are wonderful, can be made using virtually any vegetable you like, along with herbs and cheeses and perhaps a smear of pesto or olive tapenade before you pile it all on.
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, chilled
- 1/4-1/3 cup cold water
- 1/3 cup basil or tomato pesto or olive tapenade (optional)
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-4 oz crumbled feta or blue cheese, or slices pieces of Brie
- 3-4 chives or a few leaves or fresh basil, chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten optional
- To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Grate in the butter using the coarse side of a box grater and toss to combine. Add the water and stir until the pastry comes together. Gather it up into a ball, pat into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread the bottom with pesto or tapenade, if you like, then scatter with tomatoes and cheese, leaving an inch or two border around the edge. Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chives.
- Fold the edge haphazardly over the filling, pressing the folds gently to hold them inplace. If you like, brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.