Broccoli, Blue Cheese and Walnut Hand Pies are a great savoury on-the-go snack. They also just happen to be the ideal size for the lunchbox, making them the perfect portable lunch.
We are drowning in broccoli at the moment, and whilst I know this is a handy problem to have, the family is becoming slightly sick of broccoli pasta and oven roasted broccoli. Having a surplus also means I have enough to experiment with, which is how I came up with these hand pies.
Broccoli, blue cheese and walnuts are fantastic together. My mother-in-law tosses them together in an easy salad (which I really should get the recipe for), but as I was not in the mood for salad I decided to wrap them up in creamy sauce and pastry. The end result was spectacular … if I do say so myself.
I like to use a wholemeal pastry for these hand pies, as I think the nutty flavour of the flour combines well with the creamy filling. As I find it almost impossible to buy wholemeal pastry, I have made my own. Don’t let a fear of pastry keep you from making these pies though. A good quality shop-bought shortcrust or puff pastry will work just as well.
If you have some bechamel in the freezer, the filling will come together quite quickly. I often make more bechamel than I require, just so I can squirrel some away in the freezer. Freeze it in small amounts, say 1 cup portions, that can be quickly pulled out to make gratins, crepes or pie fillings.
The Princess has a (very annoying) habit of surreptitiously breaking the corner off any type of pastry that may be resting in the kitchen, so I was surprised when she actually asked if she could have a small portion of one of these pies to taste. Apparently they are so good, she finished the entire thing. Right before dinner. Children!
Broccoli, Blue Cheese and Walnut Hand Pies
For the shortcrust pastry
- 150 g white wheat flour 1 cup
- 150 g wholemeal wheat flour 1 cup
- 160 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- Pinch salt
- 160 ml ice cold water 1/2 cup + 3 Tablespoons
- Extra flour for rolling
For the filling
- 130 g broccoli
- 250 ml bechamel sauce 1 cup
- 25 g toasted walnuts finely chopped, 1/4 cup
- 25 g mild blue cheese crumbled, 1/4 cup
- Salt & pepper
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds optional
Make the pastry
- Add the flours, salt, and butter to the bowl of a food processor or Thermomix.
- Pulse 3 - 4 times, until the butter is cut into small chips. The butter should range from the size of a grain of rice to around the size of a small bean.
- Tip the flour mixture into a large bowl.
- Drizzle two-thirds of the cold water over the flour.
- Using a butter knife, cut the water into the flour, until there is no dry flour visible. If dry areas remain, drizzle in a little more water and repeat the cutting action.
- When all of the flour appears damp, tip the mixture onto a piece of cling wrap and pat into a 15cm round. Just gently press the dough. Do not try and work it at this point.
- Wrap the pastry in the cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I often make this pastry the day before I wish to use it.
Make the filling
- Place the broccoli in a double boiler and steam for 5 minutes, or until tender. This step can be done in the microwave if preferred.[Note 1]
- Finely chop the broccoli.
- Stir the broccoli, bechamel, walnuts and blue cheese together.
- Add a decent amount of pepper and stir through.
- Taste the filling and add salt if necessary. If your bechamel is well seasoned, no additional salt may be necessary.
- Set the filling aside
Make the hand pies
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced).
- Line a baking sheet and set aside.
- Lightly flour the bench and the surface of the pastry.
- Working with half of the pastry at a time, roll out until the pastry is approximately 2 mm thick. [Note 2]
- Cut out 15cm circles from the pastry. I use a small side plate as a guide.
- Place 1/3 cup filling on one half of the pastry circle.
- Brush a small amount of water along the edge of the circle.
- Fold the pastry over the filling, and gently press along the edges to seal.
- Press the sides together with the tips of a fork, dipping the tines in flour if they start to stick.
- Transfer the completed pie to the baking tray.
- Continue with the remainder of the pastry and the filling.
- Brush the tops of the pies with milk.
- Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until browned.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
2. The pastry should remain cold at all times or it will become sticky and difficult to work with. Continue to lightly dust the bench and the surface of the pastry as required, but try to limit the amount of flour used. If at any time the pastry starts to get sticky and difficult to roll, put it on a tray and place in the fridge or freezer until it feels cool to the touch.