Variations of Lentil and Rice Empanadas-Samosas-Pasties-Hand Pies Whatchamacallits

Whether you call it a Spanish empanada, an Indian samosa, an English pasty, or an American hand pie, they all have the same thing in common — they are vegetables or meat baked or fried in a dough.

A couple of years ago I used dried lentils and rice as pie weights. The idea was to use them over and over, however, they weren’t heavy enough. Instead of throwing them out, I tried to cook them even though they had been baked. TIP: The cooking time was longer, but it worked out just fine. The end result was the recipe I share today.

Some people have a real life “I hate cilantro” gene, like my father did. Below I offer two versions, both vegetarian. One has a cilantro sauce, the other uses store bought or home made Mexican salsa.

TIP: If you happen to have some leftover dough, you can make a dessert version, too. Just add a couple of teaspoons of your favorite jam or preserves and once enclosed with the dough, sprinkle some sugar on the top before baking.


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Variations of Lentil and Rice Empanadas-Samosas-Pasties-Hand Pies Whatchamacallits

  • Servings: 26
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Print


  • 1 recipe for a double (top and bottom) pie crust. Use your own favorite recipe; use a store bought double pie dough; or here is the recipe I make from Martha Stewart:
  • _________________________


  • 3/4 cup lentils, any color
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt)
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • _________________________


  • 1/3 cup jasmine or other rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt)
  • _________________________

    Cilantro salsa (If you do not want to use the cilantro salsa, use instead 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought Mexican salsa, any heat level):

  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil (e.g., sunflower or grapeseed), add more 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. This should be like a loose paste, not liquidy
  • 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt), or more to taste (check after processing all ingredients)
  • _________________________

  • 1 large egg, beaten


1. The morning or day before, make the pâte brisée (pie dough) and keep refrigerated wrapped in plastic. Remember, you can use your own favorite recipe; use a store-bought double pie dough; or here is the recipe I make from Martha Stewart:
2. In a small pan, make the lentils according to package directions, including the cumin, paprika, pepper and salt. Usually this is a 1-part lentil to 2.5 or 3-parts water ratio, and lentils typically simmer 30-40 minutes until they are tender but still hold their shape. Drain any excess water and cool to room temperature. Transfer the lentils to a large mixing bowl
3. In a small pot, make the rice according to package directions, including the salt. Let cool to room temperature and then gently, but thoroughly combine with the lentils
4. Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180 C
5. If using, make the cilantro salsa by combining all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely minced
6. 10 minutes prior to rolling out the pie dough, set it on your counter to slightly soften. Flour your working surface and roll the dough to 1/8-inch (.3 cm)
7. Cut out 4-inch (10 cm) pie dough circles using a cookie cutter, a plastic lid, or free hand. Transfer the circles to parchment or silpat lined baking sheets
8. Place a rounded Tablespoon of the lentil/rice mixture in the center of each pie dough circle. Top with a teaspoon of the cilantro or Mexican salsa
9. Brush the beaten egg around the perimeter of each pie dough circle
10. Gather each side of the pie dough circle with you hands and “crimp” the dough to form a half circle with lentil filling inside. Repeat for all the circles. Then, with a small fork, reseal the crimped edges with fork tines. TIP: Dip your fork into flour before each crimp to avoid the dough from sticking
11. With the remaining beaten egg, brush the top of each pie
12. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool a bit before eating

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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