Everyone loves a pie bento recipe

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There are all kinds of little portable pies or turnovers around the globe: Cornish pasties, the traditional miners’ lunch in Cornwall, England; empanadas from Spain, Portugal, and South America; spicy Jamaican meat patties; and even the Italian calzone.

  • Yield: 8 to 10 pies


For the Crust
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 cups (240 g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) warm water
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 tsp water
Corned Beef and Cabbage Filling
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cups (140 g) shredded cabbage
  • 3 oz (90 g) canned corned beef
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Beef, Mushroom, and Guinness Filling
  • ½ small onion, finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 2 large or 4 medium mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 8 oz (225 g) beef sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • ½ cup (120 ml) Guinness or other dark stout
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make It
    For the Crust
  1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Use a bowl large enough to allow for the liquid to foam up to 3 times its original volume. Leave in a warm place until foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, herbs, and salt. Add the olive oil. Add the water and the yeast-and-sugar mixture little by little, mixing with a wooden spoon. It will gradually form a shaggy ball. Add sprinkles of flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth and pliable. Form into a smooth ball.
  3. Put the dough into a large plastic ziplock bag and seal. If you are making the pies the same day, leave the dough in a warm place for an hour. If not, put it in the refrigerator overnight, where it will rise slowly.
  4. When you are ready to make the pies, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Beat the egg in a small bowl with a teaspoon of water.
  5. Punch down the dough and divide into 8–10 pieces. Roll or flatten out the pieces into 7 inch (18 cm) diameter circles. Place 3 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of each circle, keeping a ½ inch (1 cm) gap around the edges. Fold each circle of dough in half over the filling to form a pie, and crimp the edges firmly with a fork to seal. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg glaze.
  6. Place the pies on a baking sheet that has been oiled or lined with a nonstick liner, and bake for 40–45 minutes until golden brown and puffy.
  7. Corned Beef and Cabbage Filling
  8. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat and sauté the onion until lightly browned. Add the cabbage and sauté until limp. Lower the heat to medium and crumble the corned beef into the pan. Mix to combine. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Let the filling cool to room temperature before using it to fill the pies. It can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
  9. Beef, Mushroom, and Guinness Filling
  10. Sauté the onion in the butter or oil until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned. Add the beef and sauté until browned.
  11. Add the flour and stir to coat the beef and onion. Add the Guinness or stout and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir until the gravy has thickened and is no longer runny. Season with salt and pepper. Let the filling cool to room temperature before using to fill the pies. It can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
  12. Spinach and Cheese Filling
  13. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and sauté until lightly browned. Add the garlic and stir briefly. Add the spinach and sauté rapidly—the leaves will shrink down to a small mass. Season with a little salt (not too much, since the cheese is salty) and black pepper.
  14. Turn the spinach out into a colander to drain away excess moisture. Let it cool to room temperature.
  15. Fill the pies with a spoonful of spinach, and add some cheese cubes before sealing the edges. The spinach can still be rather moist even after draining, so take care that the moisture doesn’t run over the edges of the dough, or the pies may open up during baking.
  16. Overnight Pickled Winter Vegetables
  17. Blanch the cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot in boiling water for 3–5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  18. Combine the vinegar, salt, honey, and spices in a small pan. Bring to a boil while mixing to melt the honey. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  19. Put the vinegar mixture, the cooked vegetables, and the chopped celery in a wide-mouthed glass or other non-reactive jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. (Don’t pour boiling hot liquid into a glass container, or it may break!) Close the lid and give it a good shake. Let marinate in the refrigerator overnight before eating.
  20. To pack into a bento, take the vegetables out of the jar with a slotted spoon or chopsticks, so that the marinating liquid is drained off. Add some store-bought cornichons or sour pickles for more variety and texture.
  21. The marinating liquid can be reused one more time—just bring it to a boil again, let it cool, and add some freshly prepared vegetables.

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