I don’t know about you, but I’ve had hamantaschen on the brain for a while now. These triangular filled pastries, traditionally eaten on Purim, are just so versatile! It seems not a day goes by without another brilliant idea for a filling, or a new kind of crust, or whatever. It’s an food that’s just begging to be played with.
Last year for the first time I came across savoury hamantaschen, and was actually a bit annoyed with myself for not having thought of it before! Why should the desserts get all the glory? So this year I vowed to make savoury as well as sweet hamantaschen. And here they are!
I decided to cook up a variation on the traditional British pasty – an easy short pastry case filled with vegetables, meat or other savoury fillings, and crimped to seal before baking. Historically, pasties have been associated with Cornwall, where hungry miners would take them underground as a convenient packed lunch – the crimped pastry join formed a disposable handle which could be discarded along with any dirt and residue from the eater’s hands. The classic Cornish Pasty now has PDO status, and also contains meat, so I’m being very careful to avoid making any claims of authenticity regarding these pasty-taschen!
What I will say about them though is that they are delicious! And would be a great addition to your Purim seudah – something satisfyingly savoury before all the sweets. I made four big ones which were pretty much main course size, but you could easily make lots of little ones instead if you want to include them on a buffet, serve them canapé style, or pop them into your mishloach manot boxes.
(Incidentally, you can make them regular pasty shape when it isn’t Purim, and they’re great for lunch boxes and picnics. Just saying.)
I sprinkled the pasties with poppy seeds in a nod to the traditional hamantaschen filling, but you could substitute any kinds of seeds or toppings, or leave them off altogether. The egg wash gives them a lovely glossy golden finish on its own.
(If you’re curious to know more about Purim, when these delicacies are eaten, there’s a brief outline accompanying my recipe for brown sugar hamantaschen.)
This made four large pasty-hamantaschen, but I estimate it would make 8-12 small ones.
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- 200g plain flour
- 100g margarine or butter
- Approx. 100ml cold water
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1 medium potato
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- Pinch salt
- 70g grated cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Rub in the flour and margarine/butter (or whizz in a food processor) to give fine crumbs. Add just enough cold water to bring the crumbs together into a soft dough.
- Shape into a disc about 2cm thick, wrap in clingfilm, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Peel the onion and dice finely. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat, and saute the onion for a few minutes until soft.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots, parsnips and potato and cut into 1cm chunks.
- Add the vegetables to the pan with the onion, and mix well. Season with the herbs, pepper and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until everything is nice and soft. (If the mixture seems a little dry, or is sticking, add a spoonful or two of water just to lubricate.)
- Preheat the oven to 190C.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of 4-5mm. Use a 12cm diameter round cutter to cut out 4 circles of pastry (you may need to re-roll to get four circles).
- Place a quarter of the vegetable mixture in the centre of each circle, topped with a quarter of the grated cheese. Leave a gap of 1-1.5cm around the edge.
- Brush around the edges of the pastry circles with the beaten egg, then fold the sides up and crimp together to create hamantaschen shapes. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet.
- Brush the outside of the pastry with more egg, and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Bake the hamantaschen at 190C for around 30 minutes until cooked and golden. Serve at once while piping hot.