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greek-style rice and tempeh hand pies

April 12, 2013

Makes 6 enormous pies
Prep time: about 1 hour 15 minutes

Greek pies main pic

I’ve got masses of good stuff to celebrate at the moment:

1.  We got a new oven fitted yesterday, at last
2.  I finally got to try tempeh
3.  Tempeh tastes great!

As I mentioned in my last post, for a while now I’ve been obsessing over the idea of Greek kreatopita – meat pies with rice – and was thinking about subbing aubergine for the meat, until I went to Beanfreaks in Cardiff this week and discovered that they sell tempeh!

They also sell Vegusto cheeses, by the way.  The place is a revelation.  I am finally starting to feel like a proper card-carrying, fermented-soy-munching vegan and it is all thanks to those lovely Beanfreak peeps, who have thrown me a lifeline to the vegan world at large.

So I suppose it’s the happy combination of a) weeks of musing about Greek-style pies and b) tempeh serendipity that makes these pies taste completely amazing.  I just can’t get enough of the flavours.  I keep popping out to the kitchen to slice off little bits to nibble on.

Greek pie close up

The olive oil pastry is ridiculously easy to make and handle – a million times simpler than fussing about rubbing fat into flour.  There are a few different stages involved in putting the filling together but the extra washing up is so, so worth it, I promise.

I made generously-sized individual pies, like they sell in Greek bakeries, but you could also do one big tray pie, with pastry on bottom and top.  I might do that next time as it will probably use about half the amount of pastry.  And there will be a next time, oh yes.  This is definitely one for winning over omnis.  I will be waving a pie under my husband’s nose the minute he gets in from work.  If I can stop myself from noshing the lot in the meantime.

Greek pies, suggestively shaped

Two suggestively shaped Greek-style pies


A double batch of olive oil pastry made according to this fantastic recipe
Tempeh, one 200g packet, cut into 1cm cubes
Garlic, 3 cloves, finely chopped
One red onion, finely chopped
Soy sauce, 2 tbsp
One lemon, zest and juice
Long grain white rice, one cup, washed and drained
Spinach, one or two large handfuls, washed and roughly chopped
One cinnamon stick
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Sun dried tomato paste, 1 tbsp (or you could use ordinary tomato puree)
Dried oregano, 1 tsp
Dried mint, 1 tsp
Nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp
Salt and pepper

First boil some water in a pan and drop in your tempeh.  Let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain, then toss the tempeh cubes with two cloves’ worth of chopped garlic, the soy sauce and lemon juice (remember to pare off the zest before you slice the lemon, it will be impossible afterwards).  Leave the tempeh to marinade for 30 minutes to one hour.

Prepare the pastry dough and leave to one side to rest while you make up the rest of the filling.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan and gently fry the onion and remaining garlic for about five minutes until softened.  Chuck in the cinnamon stick.  Add in the rice and stir to coat the grains in oil.  Pour in 1.5 cups of cold water, season with a bit of salt, and pop a lid on.  When it has come to a boil turn it down and let it simmer very slowly.  Taste the rice after about eight minutes – you want it nearly, but not quite cooked, retaining a bit of bite.  If it’s too underdone and there is still liquid in the pan, let it simmer for another two or three minutes.

In the meantime heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the tempeh cubes for seven or eight minutes over a medium heat, tossing every few minutes, until browned and crispy.  When done, take the pan off the heat and throw in the spinach to wilt.

When the rice is ready discard the cinnamon stick, then fluff the grains gently with a fork.  Add the tempeh (including any tasty scrapings from the bottom of the pan) into the rice.  Then add the lemon zest, sun dried tomato paste, oregano, mint, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.  Mix it up carefully, then taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Heat the oven up to 200C.

To make up the pies, roll the pastry dough out as thin as you can – you might find it easier to work with a third at a time.  Rolling out olive oil pastry is a snap, as it is nice and stretchy and the oil ensures it doesn’t stick.  Then cut out circles – I used the bottom of an 18cm cake tin as a guide, but a small side plate would work well too.

Place a circle on a baking tray, then pile a generous handful of the filling in the centre.  You can afford to go quite near the edges as the pastry is so stretchy.  Place another pastry circle on top, then crimp round the edges to seal.  Make a small steam hole in the top.  Repeat with the rest of the pastry and filling.

Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.  Leave to stand for five or ten minutes before eating.

  1. We would call these pasties here in Australia BUT these are amazing! I am SO going to have to make these ASAP because its cold here and raining today in Tasmania and these babies have my name written all over them 🙂 Cheers for a wonderful autumnal recipe 🙂

    • Great! 😀 Hah, yes we normally use the word pasties too here, but there’s something cute about hand pies isn’t there! It’s really cold here too in an early spring kind of way and these are really comforting and warming. thanks for commenting! 🙂

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