Rustic Ratatouille Hand Pies are stacked with layers of roasted eggplant, ripe tomato, melty cheese, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs & briny olives. Wrapped up in a hearty cornmeal crust, these travel-ready vegetarian morsels are perfect for any picnic or potluck.
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Rustic Ratatouille Hand Pies
Making up a batch of rustic eggplant and heirloom tomato galettes was not really planned. I don’t often cook with eggplant, but the community garden where I work had a glut of these pretty purple beauties and no one knew what to do with them. I couldn’t let them go to waste, so I took home the whole lot, resolved to find a use for them.
To my utter delight, the result of this spur of the moment experiment is an unmitigated success. These rustic Ratatouille Hand Pies are bursting with layers of delicious, mouthwatering flavors. The cornmeal whole wheat crust is hearty and toothy, while still melting in your mouth. The dough needs that strength to hold up to the pile of toppings – the sweet tomatoes, earthy eggplant, and melted Italian cheeses. It’s all topped with some fragrant basil and thyme, with the perfect amount of salt from a scattering of briny olives.
Ratatouille Hand Pies with Eggplant & Heirloom Tomato are simple to make, completely vegetarian, and have an utterly lovely hand-made look perfect for any picnic or potluck.
Cornmeal Whole Wheat Crust
While I love the more traditional, buttery crust I typically use in my miniature hand pies (like these Mushroom & Gruyere Picnic Pies), I wanted to try something different with these Ratatouille Hand Pies. The hand-molded crust needed to be hearty enough to hold up to the fresh vegetables and layers of cheese, without being too thick or unbalanced with the filling’s flavors. The combination of corn and tomato tastes like quintessential summer to me, so I knew a cornmeal crust would pair beautifully. The addition of whole wheat flour to the dough makes for a stronger crust, and the course cornmeal gives a delicious crunch and sweetness. The result is a dough that can hold up to all the juices of the filling while still being tender and delicious with every bite.
Forming the dough around the filling is easy. In truth, these Ratatouille Hand Pies are mini galettes – open-face pies with the crust folded up and over the toppings, no pan or tin needed. Galettes are one of the easiest pastries to make, because their beauty lies in their imperfection. These rustic hand pies don’t need to be perfect. As long as the dough is pleated up and over the filling, each will bake into a beautiful little vegetarian meal.
Perfect for Potlucks & Picnics
The best thing about hand pies is that they can be made well ahead of time, frozen, and reheated when needed. That makes them perfect for entertaining, bringing to pot lucks, or even carrying along to a picnic.
To store for future use, follow all the directions as written, until the Ratatouille Hand Pies are cooked through. Let them cool to room temperature, and then arrange them on a clean baking sheet. Freeze in a single layer for one to two hours, and then transfer the whole lot (now rock solid) to freezer-safe bags or a sealed container and keep frozen until needed. Enjoy your Ratatouille Hand Pies within 3 months.
When ready to eat, heat the oven to 400 degree F and arrange the number of Ratatouille Hand Pies you desire on a baking sheet lined with parchment. No need to defrost. Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve up when heated through. Feel free to make them ahead – the pies are just as good at room temperature as they are hot!
When you need a hearty meal option that will please vegetarians and carnivores alike, these Ratatouille Hand Pies are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Even eggplant-haters like them! Enjoy a batch while the eggplants and tomatoes are still in season this summer. You’ll thank me later.
Ratatouille Hand Pies with Eggplant, Heirloom Tomato, & Cornmeal Crust
Rustic Ratatouille Hand Pies are stacked with layers of roasted eggplant, ripe tomato, melty cheese, & a sprinkling of fresh herbs & briny olives. Wrapped up in a hearty cornmeal crust, these travel-ready #vegetarian morsels are perfect for any #picnic or #potluck.
Cornmeal Whole Wheat Crust
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (plus some for dusting)
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup coarse cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept chilled (2 sticks)
- 1 large egg, chilled and beaten
- ¼-1/2 cup ice water
Vegetable & Cheese Filling
- 2 pounds eggplant, cut into slices 1/8th inch thick (3-4 medium sized eggplants)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ pounds heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin (about 2 large tomatoes)
- ½ pound cherry tomatoes, halved (preferably multi-colored)
- 1 cup olives, pitted and halved
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, shaved thin (about 2 ounces)
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin (about 8 ounces)
- Fresh basil leaves (about 24)
- Fresh thyme sprigs (about 24)
- Egg wash (one egg beaten with two tablespoons milk)
- Coarse sea salt & freshly ground cracked black pepper, for topping
Make the Crust Dough
Whisk together the flours, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Fold in the cubes of chilled butter, and mix slowly with the paddle attachment until the dough is crumbly and the butter is pea-sized. Whisk together the beaten egg and ¼ cup water. Increase the mixer speed and slowly pour in the egg mixture. Mix until just combined, adding a little more water if needed. The dough should be pliable, but not too sticky.
Divide the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour.
Roast the Eggplant & Prepare the Filling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Spread the slices of eggplant out on the sheets, and drizzle with olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.
Roast for about 30 minutes, until golden and tender. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. As the eggplant cools, prepare the remaining ingredients. Line two (cool) baking sheets with parchment paper.
Assemble the Hand Pies
Dust a clean work surface with flour to prevent sticking. Working with one disk of dough at a time, divide each into six balls of dough (for a total of twelve). Roll out each ball into a rough circle about 1/8th inch thick, and arrange on the parchment lined baking sheets.
Layer the prepared filling ingredients in this order, leaving about two inches of dough on each side: one or two slices of mozzarella cheese; one slice of roasted eggplant (or enough to cover the cheese if your slices are small); one slice heirloom tomato; and two to three fresh basil leaves.
On top of this stack, sprinkle a few shavings of parmesan cheese, three to five olive halves, and two to three cherry tomato halves. Top with one or two sprigs of thyme.
Fold the edges of each circle up and over the filling ingredients, pleating the dough as you go. Leave the center open, exposing the colors of the ingredients, as you would a traditional galette.
Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle each hand pie with sprinkle with a pinch each of coarse sea salt and freshly ground cracked black pepper. Bake the pies for 25-30 minutes, until the crusts are golden and the bottoms are firm and heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Make Ahead & Freeze: Hand pies are a great dish to make ahead and serve at picnics, potlucks, or just for a quick dinner. Once the pies are cool, separate them out into a single layer on a clean baking sheet and freeze for about two hours. Once frozen, transfer the pies to a freezer safe plastic container and store in the freezer. When ready to eat, reheat the pies in a 400 degree F oven for about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy frozen pies within 3 months of freezing.