Deep Winter Savory Pies
by Laura Frerichs, Tastemaker in Residence
As we try to enliven and enjoy the deep Minnesota winter, comfort food rises to the top of the weekend baking projects. Morning glory muffins and homemade bread are real winter treats for us as we have time to slow down and stay inside by the fire while the wind howls outside. But now that the Thanksgiving and Christmas season are over, we still remember the joys of a special baked good: PIE! While those traditional holiday fruit pies are always good... (I mean, who can't get behind a warm slice of apple pie with vanilla ice cream?) I mostly am interested in trying something new that will get our family through another meal or two. Usually that means searching through our deep freezer for summer treats stashed away that might be good pie ingredients, and coming across frozen broccoli, kale, stored carrots and beets, onions and squash. That is the amazing thing about pie. You can use just about anything, and with proper seasoning and preparation, it almost always tastes good!
So let's talk savory pies. One of our favorites is Spanakopita, the Greek spinach-loaded feta concoction encased in phyllo dough. I don't feel so bad eating a bunch of butter if I am eating leafy greens too. We often use cooked kale, chard, spinach or a mix of all three to make a riff on spanakopita. We call this a "Deep Winter Green Pie" and serve it with a romaine salad and fresh fruit to lighten the meal up. Winter root vegetables, think turnips, parsnips, carrots, potatoes and onions also make a nice mix on their own or added in with some cooked greens. And all this leads my mind to shepherd's pie and the Iron Range favorite: a pasty! At a summer family reunion my uncle made homemade pasties, and sent us on our car ride home with foil-wrapped pasties to dip in yellow mustard and ketchup. Pie comfort at its best!