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Curried “Meat” Hand Pies (vegan)

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This past summer, I’ve finally created a sustainable approach to cooking for one (hungry) person. I aim for fresh meals and zero waste, and so far it’s working well. As a result I’ve been thinking a lot about my food philosophy and approach to cooking.

On one hand, I’m a huge fan of the minimalist approach to cooking. I love simple high-quality dishes with flavors that are bright and true, rather than cluttered and muddled. Think, Minimalist Baker or Budget Bytes.

At the same time, some of the best foods have page long lists of ingredients that combine to form the perfect symphony of flavors. Think, Lady and Pups or Serious Eats.

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I’m still trying to figure out where I should focus my cooking with respect to these two extremes, but I’ve found it’s usually better to start simple.

These curry “meat” pies are my take on Jamaican Hand Pies. I combined a few of the recipes I found online, stripping down the ingredients to my kitchen staples (hence, the minimalism). TVP might not be a kitchen staple of yours (yet), but I recommend buying a bag because it’s cheap, an easy protein addition to sauces and soups, and it has a shelf life of over a year. If you’re still hesitant, feel free to replace it with a generous ¾ cup of crumbled tofu or 8 ounces of ground beef.

Until I get a chance to try authentic Jamaican pies, I can’t say how close they taste to the real things, but they are savory and flavorful, and my friends inhaled them. I’m headed back to college soon, but my next kitchen with have a freezer stocked with these for sure (they’re basically a much improved hot pocket). These and this vegetable lasagna. So good.

Curry “Meat” Hand Pies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup tvp “grains”
  • 3 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil
  • 3 oz diced yellow onion
  • 4 oz sweet potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 2 oz carrots, diced in small pieces
  • 4 oz cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 oz frozen or fresh peas
  • 3 tsp beef flavored bouillon (3 cubes in my case)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce (or ¼ cup water and 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (1 box)
  • optional: 2 tbs crushed walnuts, salt or soy sauce to taste

Preparation process:

Combine in a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup tvp pellets
  • ½ cup boiling water

Stir, and let sit for 20 minutes so that the tvp can rehydrate (you can proceed while waiting).

In a large saucepan, cook at medium-low heat:

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
  • 3 oz diced yellow onion

Continue cooking the onion until it is soft and light golden brown. Then, add:

  • 4 oz sweet potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 2 oz carrots, diced in small pieces
  • 4 oz cabbage, finely chopped

Once the vegetables are beginning to soften, add the the pan:

  • the rehydrated tvp
  • 3 tsp beef flavored bouillon (3 SMALL–much smaller than the boillon cubes i’ve used in the past–cubes in my case)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce (or ¼ cup water and 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • optional: 2 tbs crushed walnuts

Continue cooking for 10 minutes, adding a few tablespoons water if the filling mixture looks dry.

Lastly, fold in:

  • 2 oz frozen or fresh peas

Taste, and add a pinch of salt or drizzle of soy sauce if desired (I added ½ tsp soy sauce). Transfer the “meat” pie filling to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

While the filling is chilling, place a box of frozen puff pastry out to defrost for 45 minutes and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the two puff pastry sheets (each box of puff pastry should come with 2 sheets) into four pieces each. Put away 2 pieces for later use. I went this route and made peanut butter banana pastries. So good.

Roll out the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry into thin squares. Place 1/6 of the filling onto one side of each square (each side is a triangle), leaving a ¼ inch border between the edge of the puff pastry and the filling.

Fold the puff pastry over the filling, creating a triangle shape.Crimp the edges with a fork, making sure to not leave any gaps where the filling might fall out.

Now, either bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (~15-25 minutes) OR put the “meat” pies into the freezer. Frozen pies can be baked straight from the freezer at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes. The pies are down when they are golden brown and flaky, and the filling is steamin’ hot.

Enjoy!