Make Someone’s Valentine’s Day With A Treat That Isn’t Sweet

By Chanel Dror
savory valentine's hand pies

Mackenzie Anne Smith is a woman after my own heart. What makes us kindred spirits, you ask? It’s simple: our shared belief that everything tastes better with a carby starchy doughy element. While I’ve perfected the art of eating things-stuffed-in-pastry (or, pocket foods as today’s guest would say) Mackenzie has mastered the art of actually making them on the website she co-founded with Lauren V. Allen, The World in a Pocket. She joins us today with a delicious recipe that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.

From Mackenzie: My friend, Lauren, and I have an ongoing series we call “Put that in your Pocket”, where we talk about how we root through our leftovers and put them into pockets. Dumplings, hand pies, wraps –– you name it, we will stuff the contents of our fridge into a pocket and celebrate the process.

A quick survey of the bits and bobs from the past week and into the dough they go! Instead of cooking them right away, I usually freeze them to have on hand for busy days when making a meal is out of the question. Being able to pop a healthy-ish hand pie in the oven feels like a luxurious gift to myself.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, a heart-shaped riff on these earth-friendly pockets full of goodness are the perfect treat for a night with your besties, or for sharing with your special Valentine. Wrapping them in parchment and tying with twine makes for an adorable gift and a welcome addition to any sweet-filled party.

We have been getting beautiful beets in our CSA every week for the past month or two, so I make a big batch of them every Sunday night to eat throughout the week. I am almost tired of them, so packing them into puff pastry with spiced lentils and goat cheese to gift my loves who will appreciate a tiny pie is win-win.

The “fresh” thyme that was sagging past its prime in the door of my refrigerator is something I might have thrown away a few years ago, but I know a quick chop and stir into the beets will revive the mixture and save the herb from being wasted.

The key to our “put that in your pocket approach” is accepting that each time you make something it is going to be a little different, and that if it tastes good somewhere else, it will probably taste good in a dumpling (hand pie, samosa, empanada, pierogi — take your pick!)

Does that broccoli and cheddar soup from Chili’s bring you delightful pangs of 90’s nostalgia? Well put it in a dumpling! I see lemony kale tangoing with white beans and Parmesan in a lucky empanada in the near future, you should too!

Know that sometimes your filling will exceed your dough, or vice-versa. If you run out of dough, either cook your filling as a side dish with your next meal, or freeze it for later. If you run out of filling, make sweet hand pies with fresh fruit or jam you have on hand. (Speaking of sweet pies, check out Lauren’s strawberry rhubarb rose hand pies for the sweet-tooths in your life.)

According to a 2014 EPA Study, America throws away more than 38 million tons of food each year. Addressing the contents of our refrigerator may seem like a small start to combating food waste, but starting at home is key. If you like the idea of reducing food waste, maybe you and your special Valentine could look into volunteering at a local organization that addresses the issue on a larger scale!

I packaged each heart-shaped pie into parchment paper, tied up with string and a hand-written name tag. I predict a most delicious Valentine’s Day for my nearest and dearest.

See the full recipe below!

Valentine's Day Hand Pies

Serves 9 or 10 hand pies

Make Someone's Valentine's Day With A Treat That Isn't Sweet

By Camille Styles

30 minutes


20 minutes



  • 1 package of puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 cups of cooked lentils
  • about 2 cups of roasted beets
  • Up to 3 tablespoons of any fresh herbs you have on hand, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh goat and/or feta cheese
  • Optional: a heaping tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 beaten egg for the pastry (optional)
  • ¼ cup water

Other filling suggestions:

  • Roasted carrots
  • Salsa
  • Mashed potatoes


  1. Chop beets into ½-inch pieces and mix with thyme and lentils. Stir in yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add herbs.
  2. Roll out pastry dough as thin as you can. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut dough and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F
  4. Divide hearts in half, so you have the “bottom” of the pastry on a flat surface waiting to be filled and the “tops” set aside. Dip your finger into the water and trace about an inch of the edge of a heart (this will allow the top of the dough to stick to the bottom).
  5. Spoon the beet mixture onto the pastry, then top with goat cheese. Take one of the tops and stretch it out a little bit before placing over the bottom and pressing the edges to close the pie. Use the tines of a fork to seal the deal. Poke with the fork and brush with egg wash if you want. Repeat until you can’t anymore.
  6. Bake at 400F until pastries are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Comments (3)

  1. K&E says:

    Gosh these looks so good! Xoxo, K&E

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *