How to improvise in the kitchen – my recipe for butternut squash turnovers

Paris, France

Squash turnoverIt all started quite innocently about three weeks ago. I was in the supermarket on Milos and a sumptuous squash caught my eye (hello gorgeous!). I could make something local and seasonal with this I thought. Don’t Greeks make butternut squash pie with filo? Why, yes. Yes, they do. It is delicate, crunchy and beautiful. This would be perfect. I would impress everyone. And, with visions of me effortlessly whipping up the pie like a local, I carefully placed the squash in my shopping cart. How I could I have known what was about to happen?

Armed with the butternut squash and a recipe from one of Mom’s Greek cookbooks (Grèce: Cuisine Familiale et Tradition I set to work. As I progress through the recipe I hit a number of roadblocks:

1. The recipe calls for 800 gr of grated butternut squash. That’s a lot of squash. No worries, I’ll just keep at it.

2. I don’t have sugar. That’s ok, I’ll substitute honey.

3. The filo pastry I bought isn’t filo at all, it’s just regular pastry. No problem, I’ll just curse myself for not being able to read Greek packaging, throw everything out the window and rock back and forth in the fetal position. Is there anything more enraging than a bad baking day???

Just kidding, I didn’t throw a fit… much.

After a much-needed glass of vino I decided to change the recipe and make turnovers. The first batch of turnovers were  just ok so I made some adjustments and added a sweet drizzle to the second batch – delicious!

So here you go, the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-squash-pie turnovers:


For turnover

  • 2 rectangular sheets of ready-made pastry

For filling

  • 3 cups grated butternut squash (I found this bit quite tedious – delegate if you can)
  • 1 tbsp rice (I used basmati because that’s what I had kicking around)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 cup blond raisins
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg

For egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp water

For glaze

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • Juice from the squash mix


Preheat the oven to 180°C and get to work grating the squash into a bowl. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Squash turnover filling

Put the filling in a strainer on top of a bowl and press down gently (but firmly) to squeeze some of the juice out into the bowl. You don’t want the squash to be bone dry but it should release a fair amount of liquid. Reserve the juice, you’ll be needing it for the glaze.

Take out your pastry sheets and cut each one into 4 squares – you might need to trim the pastry to get the right shape.

Spoon some of mix onto each square (you want your turnovers to be nice and plump but if you can’t fold the pastry over onto itself you’ve put too much in).

Take one of the corners and fold it over to create a triangle. Gently close the pastry triangle and seal the edges with the help of a fork (use the tines to press down). This will ensure the pastry stays closed while cooking and will create a pretty border along the turnover (see photo below).

Use a sharp knife to make three little cuts on the top of the pastry – important!

In a small bowl, make the egg wash by mixing the egg yolk and water. Use a brush (or your CLEAN finger if you have no brush like me) to lightly coat the tops of the turnovers.

Squash turnovers with egg wash

Place the turnovers on a non-stick baking sheet before popping them into the oven for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them getting too brown – just lightly golden.

Take the turnovers out of the oven and let them cool on a rack. While they cool, make the glaze. Put the icing sugar in a bowl and add a tbsp of the squash juice. Mix and repeat until you achieve a nice smooth and “drizzly” consistency (i.e.. you don’t want it to be clumpy or dense but it shouldn’t be super runny either).

Dip a large spoon in the glaze, then drizzle the delectable sugariness over the turnovers. Use quick back and forth motions to produce pleasing lines. Put as a much glaze as you like, you deserve it.

Turnover with glaze

Let the turnovers sit for a bit so that the glaze hardens. Serve to your lucky guests whenever you  want… breakfast, brunch, dessert… whenever!

By the way, here’s what Greek squash pie should look like… not exactly what I ended up with but my turnovers were delicious! Sometimes improvising in the kitchen leads to good things 🙂


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6 thoughts on “How to improvise in the kitchen – my recipe for butternut squash turnovers

  1. Jan November 4, 2013 at 11:55 am Reply

    Seeing your beautiful photos reminds me how truly virtuous I was when you made both versions of these. I only had a dainty taste instead of wolfing down a whole turnover.which is of course what I wanted to do. Regrets? I have a few……

    • Beth November 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm Reply

      You were terribly good I have to say!

  2. Emily November 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm Reply

    I’ll have to see what gluten free wonder I can try and make with this. But it looks and sounds amazing,.

    • Beth November 8, 2013 at 8:00 am Reply

      Thanks Emi, let me know how that goes!

  3. nimmiafzal July 26, 2014 at 5:28 pm Reply

    This is really awesome😛!!

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