Feed a Crowd With These Festive Savory Pies

Vegetarian shepherd’s pies, slab pies and more ideas for the holidays.

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By Tejal Rao

In some of my earliest kitchen memories, I’m handed a pile of dough scraps to roll and cut into circles and stars. I glue them onto shiny, sealed pies with a bit of slippery egg wash — a small but meaningful contribution to our holiday pies.

When I make pies now, I hand off the scraps to my nephews, who are honestly just as entertained by lumps of raw puff pastry as they are by tins of foam and sand slimes. They use cookie cutters to stamp out some candy canes, or place abstract shapes on the exact part of the pie they plan to eat later.

The casual, communal prep, and the ease of baking a single dish in the oven for dinner, is part of why my family is still so drawn to savory pies during the holidays, whether it’s a Swiss chard slab pie made with leaves and stems, a beet and beet green pie tucked in layers of phyllo, a coiled winter squash pie or a mash-topped, lentil-filled shepherd’s pie bubbling away at the edges. (If you’re cooking with kids, you could encourage them to use a fork to make a pattern in the mashed potatoes before you bake it — a fun job!)

Yotam Ottolenghi’s new butternut squash, leek and za’atar pie is great for anyone looking to get ahead on their holiday cooking. It tastes even better if you assemble it the day before and give the vegetables a day to rest in the fridge before baking. To prep, roast butternut squash with maple syrup and cinnamon, then mix it with cream cheese and feta. Sandwich that mix, along with sautéed leeks, scallions and garlic, between two giant rectangles of puff pastry.

To make a meal out of that beauty, or any one of these pies, I’d make this insalata verde, which Samin Nosrat adapted from the New York restaurant Via Carota. With a simple dressing made with shallots, sherry vinegar and mustards, and a mix of leaves — butter lettuce, romaine, endive, watercress and frisée — it really goes with everything.

Butternut Squash, Leek and Za’atar Pie

Go to the recipe.

Swiss Chard Slab Pie

Go to the recipe.

Beet and Beet Green Pie

Go to the recipe.

One More Thing

If you’re looking to bake something sweet for a crowd for breakfast or an afternoon snack, Sohla El-Waylly’s giant almond croissant is an enormous, efficient and truly stunning way to go. Sohla adds a touch of rum to the frangipane, which you can make up to three days ahead and keep ready to go, before layering it with some sliced almonds onto two sheets of puff pastry, much like a slab pie. For the full almond croissant effect, don’t be afraid to bake it until the pastry is properly dark brown and crunchy on the edges.

Thanks for reading the Veggie. Happy holidays, and see you next week!

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