Mini lunchbox pasties and tarts

Mini CollageWhen my oldest daughter first started primary school, I rather enjoyed packing her lunch boxes each week, seeing what new and tasty things I could think up to put in there. And yes, you guessed it, the novelty wore off after about half a term.

But every now and again I do try to put in a little extra effort. Most of the time my daughters are grateful for that effort, although we do have the occasional disaster when I wish I hadn’t bothered and had simply given them a cheese roll instead. These mini pasties and tarts get the thumbs up from my two though. So if you do find you have a little extra time on your hands at the weekend and you’re in a baking mood, make up a big batch of these to see  you through the week. They also freeze well too.

mini pasties

Mini lunchbox pasties filled with beef, carrot and boiled egg

Makes around 20

For the pastry

250g plain flour
pinch of salt
65g butter, cubed
60g lard or hard vegetable fat, cubed
4 tbsp iced water

For the filling

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
250g minced beef
1 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

1 beaten egg, for brushing onto the pastry

For the pastry

Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter and lard/vegetable fat using your finger tips until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Gradually mix in the cold water using a knife until it comes together to form a dough. Bring it all together with your hands into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

For the filling

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion and carrot until soft and golden. Add the minced beef and fry until browned.

Next add the black treacle, Worcestershire sauce, dried oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a couple more minutes and then stir in the chopped egg. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry until about 2mm thick. Using a cup or small bowl about 9-10cm in diameter as a template, cut out circles of pastry. 

Into the middle of each pastry circle, spoon some of your beef filling. Fold the edges of the pastry up and pinch together to seal it into that classic pastry shape. Place each pasty onto a large baking sheet and when they’re all complete, brush the pastry with a little beaten egg.

Bake the pasties in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they are a beautiful golden brown colour. Enjoy hot or cold.

mini pasties

Next come the mini tarts. They are very versatile and you can add your children’s favourite ingredients. As well as cherry tomatoes, used here, we also include ham, sweetcorn, peas, chopped sausage, spinach, courgette, peppers – the options are pretty much endless.

mini tart

Mini lunchbox tarts filled with cheese and cherry tomatoes

Makes 12

For the pastry

110g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, diced
cold water to mix

For the filling

2 large eggs, beaten
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

For the pastry

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Rub in the butter to form breadcrumbs. Combine with water to form a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

Grease each of the cups of a 12-bun muffin tin with a little butter and dust with flour.

Flour the work surface and roll out the pastry to around 2mm thick. Cut out circles using a fluted pastry cutter, slightly larger than the diameter of the cups in the muffin tin. Press the pastry circles into the muffin tin.

Mix together the eggs and half the grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the pastry moulds. Pop two halves of cherry tomato into each tart and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.

Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is set. Enjoy hot or cold.

mini tart

These tarts and pasties are my entry into this month’s Family Foodies challenge, which I am co-hosting with Lou at Eat Your Veg. The theme this month is Lunchbox Ideas. We’ve already received some great entries – why not pop over and take a look? Or how about sharing your own favourite lunchbox filler?


July Herbs on Saturday Blog Challenge – Win a Copy of ‘The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook’

This month the lovely Karen from Lavender & Lovage has invited me to guest host her wonderful Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

Herbs on Saturday is one of my favourite bloggers’ challenges as it always attracts such diverse and delicious dishes, so I really must not let the side down! It is a simple and easy way to share recipes throughout the month that celebrate cooking with herbs, as well as a chance to pick up new ideas and discover new blogs and bloggers, and I hope you’ll join in the fun.

To enter all you have to do is add any recipe you have made during the week by emailing me with the URL for your post. And they don’t only need to be recipes made on a Saturday! At the end of each month, a ‘special blogger’ will choose their favourite recipe from all the entries, and the winning blogger will receive a fantastic cookbook as their prize. The full entry guidelines are below.

July’s prize is The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook, edited by Joanna Farrow.

This beautiful book features 85 flavourful recipes for soups, salads, appetizers, fish, meat, poultry, vegetarian dishes, bread, biscuits, cakes, desserts and ice creams – all of course made with generous handfuls of fragrant fresh herbs.

There are classic dishes such as lamb with mint, and roasted tomato and mozzarella salad with basil dressing, as well as unusual combinations such as chicken with thyme and lavender. It includes a useful herb directory that identifies some of the best-known and most useful culinary herbs, as well as delicious flowers, fruits and spices to pep up a plain meal.

So, to get the ball rolling here’s my recipe for a lovely summery salad with oregano – just wish we had the weather to go with it!

Courgette and oregano flower salad

This fresh, light salad features delicate oregano flowers, as well as the leaves. The crunch of the courgette with the soft mozzarella cheese and juicy tomatoes is a sensational combination.

Make sure you slice the courgette as thinly as possible as it is eaten raw in this salad. It’s best to use a mandolin on its thinnest setting. And use the smaller, firmer courgettes if you can.

Serves 4

For the dressing

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper

4 or 5 courgettes, very thinly sliced lengthways
250g baby plum or cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
300g mozzarella, thinly sliced
Handful oregano leaves, picked
Handful oregano flowers, picked

To make the dressing, simply put the ingredients into a jam jar, screw the lid on tightly and give it a really good shake.

Place your salad ingredients (except for the flowers) into a large serving bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well. Carefully decorate with the oregano flowers.

This is a lovely salad to serve with grilled fish or chicken, or on its own with crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Herbs on Saturday for July – guidelines on how to enter

  1. Send your recipe URL to me at, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date is Monday 30 July.
  2. Display the Herbs on Saturday badge (as shown above and below) to the relevant recipe post, with a link back to this post  and also to the challenge page over at Lavender & Lovage.
  3. Email me as many recipe links as you like, there is no limit and the recipes and posts can be from any day, not just Saturday!
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #herbsonsaturday, @BangerMashChat and @KarenBurnsBooth in your tweet – I will retweet all that I see.
  5. The recipe can be one of your own or one you’ve seen elsewhere. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge as listed above with the Herbs on Saturday badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. A guest blogger will choose their favourite recipe at the end of the month, and the winner will receive a copy of The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook.

Hopefully that’s all crystal clear, but if not let me know. I’m really looking forward to receiving your entries for Herbs on Saturday! Come on, let’s get herby!

July’s entries for Herbs on Saturday:

  1. Sausage Plait for the Whole Family from Mamacook
  2. Pan Bagnat from Lavender & Lovage
  3. Mediterranean Feta and Tomato Bake from Cooking Around the World
  4. Les Spaghettis aux herbes et ail from Simple Quiet Modern
  5. Chicken and noodle salad with coriander and mint from Bangers & Mash
  6. Pepper and Mushroom Pappardelle  from Tinned Tomatoes
  7. Devilled Gooseberry Sauce and Tarragon Vinegar from As Strong As Soup
  8. Cheese and Herb Scone from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  9. Turkish Zucchini Fritters from Tinned Tomatoes
  10. Involtini di melanzane from Leeks & Limoni
  11. White asparagus tips with tarragon sauce from French Foodie Baby
  12. Nectarine Shiso Ice Cream from French Foodie Baby
  13. Salmon with sorrel from French Foodie Baby
  14. Penne with chicken, tarragon and broccoli from Bangers & Mash
  15. Rosemary Foccacia from Piece of Cake
  16. Blackberry Lavender Popsicles from girlichef
  17. Herbal Lemonade from girlichef
  18. Strawberry and basil jam from The Garden Deli
  19. Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta from Chez Foti
  20. Beetroot with Chorizo, Feta and Mint from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  21. A Gratin of Tomatoes from how to cook good food
  22. Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Lavender & Lovage
  23. Artichoke bottoms with green sauce from French Foodie Baby
  24. Herby Roast Chicken from A Trifle Rushed
  25. Pesto Linguine from How to be a Gourmand
  26. Raspberry, lemon and mint semifreddo from Bangers & Mash
  27. Grilled halloumi and herb salad by Lancashire Food
  28. Tomato and basil tart by Blue Kitchen Bakes
  29. 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow by Chez Foti
  30. Tomato and Herb Foccacia from Working London Mummy