Wartime Vegetable Turnovers


I am not sure whether there was a typo in the cook book for this one- it said serves 4 so I made 4 veggie turnovers out of the ingredients …they were each the size of 1/2 a dinner plate! BUT if Marguerite Patten tells me it feeds 4 then I will eat a whole one and I did just that last night and felt very greedy indeed (see that guilt thing again…!)

Each one was the size of 1/2 a dinner plate…!

So here is the recipe for a hungry man’s wartime veggie turnover- I was quite impressed!


                                            See….it is monstrous!!!

Wartime Vegetable Turnover


  • 12 oz of plain (wholewheat) flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • large pinch of salt
  • 3 oz margarine (or dripping)
  • water


  • 10 oz scrubbed diced cooked potatoes (never remove the skins!)
  • 4 medium carrots diced
  • 1 large onion or 1 leek finely chopped (saute)
  • herbs, salt, pepper


Sift the flour, salt and rub in the margarine

Bind with water

Cook carrots and potatoes until medium soft and then mix gently together in bowl with a little margarine, salt, pepper and herbs

Mix in the onions or leeks

Divide the pastry into 4 pieces and roll out each one into a round

Put mixture into centre of each round 

Wet the edges of pastry with water

Pull over one side to the other and press down edges

Prick top of pastry

Brush with a little milk

Bake in hot over (220 C) for 25-30 mins until crisp and brown

Serve hot or cold.

29 thoughts on “Wartime Vegetable Turnovers

  1. Hi again

    I had this problem with her Woolton pie recipe. I couldn’t fit all the veggies into my largest, feeds eight in a pinch, casserole dish. I love those cookbooks too, but I’ve also learned to use a bit of common sense, since I think there might be some typos or perhaps generational misunderstandings. ; )

    • Yes this recipe must have had a typo- the turnovers were huge. I think they doubled up on the ingredients!!

      BTW- Love your website!!!

      C xx

      • Don´t forget that these were often the whole meal. No sides or such and the people had to work hard.

        Also the vegetables don´t offer much calories, so the portion size, in my opinion, seems right.

        I think, a maximum of 800 calories per pie which is not much if you compare it with nowadays fast food joints and what they offer.

        Same with the Wolton Pie. Many veggies, big volume and less calories than in non-war pies. No eggs, no cheese, no half pound of bacon or whatever is used in casserols.

      • I agree with Inugami. Not only is there no protein in this dish and no sides, you have to remember that most people worked a LOT harder than we do now. They didn’t sit around in their office on the computer all day. Even housewives did a lot more physical work than we have to now. My husband is a farmer and I can guarantee you that he would need a ‘turnover’ this side to try and fill him up. When you work hard for a living you need more calories.

  2. I made these the other night, but halved the recipe as it would only be me eating them. They were still huge! I felt like a christmas turkey after eating one.

    I don’t have any Marguerite Patten books, but I have a few of the daily telegraph ones, and one which is just a reprint of loads of war time pamphlets and all of their portions are massive too.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe though!

  3. The reason you are having troubles is that our vegis are Huge compared to what they used to have in the 1940’s. NOw with synthetic fertilizers we have vegis that are twice the size that they used, of couse 1/2 the nutritional value too.

    • Brian you know I never even thought of that but you are quite right. No wonder these turnovers were the size of dinner plates!! 🙂

    • Ahm…no that is not quite right.

      Sure, on the fairs where the biggest pumpkin/carrot/whatever is winning a prize there are unknown giants found, but the big, fat carrots and potatoes were also normal in the 1913-1945.

      If I recall what my gran used to pull out from her veggie garden, or my mom..or what we saw on the farmer markets.
      My gran and mom prefered the penny-potatoes, the very small ones because they tasted nuttier than the big ones.

      Apples and potatoes as big as a newborn babies head, yep I have held those in my hands and plucked and digged them..no chemical fertilizer.

      Only compost, chicken manure, the manure from the rabbits…and human manure, yep.

      The problem here is not the size of the pies, the problem is that because of high calorie food in abundance the people have forgotten how much less calories an all vegetable pie has.

      Compare the ingredients with the cheese, cream, meat which is nowadays put into those pies together with the vegetables. It doubles and tripples the calorie content and therefor we are told to eat smaller portions.

      I can easily scarf down three pounds of vegetables in a meal, two pounds if it is potatoes. Still has less calories than a *normal* pie nowadays you can buy.

      This is the problem with Fast food joints.
      Tiny portions with high calorie content that doesn´t fill up and people get hungry very fast after such a meal.
      Don´t eat smaller portions, eat smarter.
      Humans are made to eat big ammounts of food in a sitting which triggers all the right path ways that tell our brain and digestive tract that we are satisfied.

      High calorie food was not available always or in such ridicolous ammounts, but our digestive system still wants the same *full* feeling and therefor we overeat.

      And if we get confronted with normal food portions that our grandparents ate as normal, every day food, than we think it is too big and too much while in reality we just eat too high in calories where we are only allowed smaller portions if we don´t want to blow out of proportions.

  4. now i am a batchelor again i have to learn to cook. this recipe sounds just right for me. will give it a try tomorrow. i can survive on veggy pasties if there half as good as they sound. thanks . ROBERT.

  5. These look lovely, and full of healthy stuff! I wonder if my little boy would like them (he likes anything with “paste-wy” in)….?

  6. I agree with Organisedpauper. I was watching either Victorian Farm or Edwardian Farm (IDK, I’m slightly addicted to that trio of nuts and have watched a few of their programs. They’re all wonderful. Esp Alex… he’s a dish!) Anywho… I remember the guys went to work in the mines one day and Ruth sent them off with pasties. If I remember right, there was a bit of talk about how hard the work was and how much they needed a lot of calories. If you do Youtube, someone by the screen name of “Zodiacza1” has them posted. They’ve also got a ton of other British cooking shows too.

  7. Rember the men were away, mostly and the girls were doing their jobs, imagine the calories they needed! Try making 6 or 8 (for little titches like me).

  8. I love the concept of your site.. I’m writing a book that takes place during the 1940’s, and I will bookmark your site so I can reference these recipes.. thanks

  9. This is so yummy! I had left over beef in stout stew that already had onions and carrots it it so I just mixed that with some boiled potatoes and wrapped it in the dough. 🙂 love it! Thanks so much for that recipe.

  10. My mum always put a little gravy in the pasties, so that they weren’t too dry and we had chopped swede (rutabaga) instead of leeks, Dad hated leeks
    So Mum’s were potatoes, swede and carrots plus a pinch of mixed herbs with a little gravy.
    You couldn’t always get onions in the UK during the war they were really scarce and even given out as raffle prizes.

  11. I made these turnovers and they are delicious. The pastry is especially nice. Will definatly be making these again!

  12. Right, finally getting around to starting to read through your archives and already salivating. I remember when I was a kid reading about dripping in Enid Blyton books and having no very real idea of what is was, just that it was apparently delicious on bread. It clicked with me when I used to work in a souvenir shop in the Black Forest and we served slices of wood-fired oven bread covered in Schmalz and people went mad for it. I think it may be time to buy myself another tub of the lovely goose Schmalz they have at the market – I just never seem to cook enough meat to really get anything much in the way of my own drippings. And I definitely have to try making pastry with it, so much better than margarine. Interested to try the pastry as my normal shortcrust (which is one of the few things I often get compliments on) is a ratio of 1:2 fat to flour, so a ratio of 1:4 should be very different. Also love the idea of these as a way to use up leftover stew. I could drain off most of the gravy, have that for lunch mixed with a little water if necessary as just soup and then have the meat and veg in pastry for dinner. Nice way to stretch leftovers into two rather than just one meal.

  13. Out of curiosity I did the calorie count on this after reading all the comments. I do not believe there was a typo at all. I think I have some good proof here too. First, both men and women were told to eat 3,000 cal a day. The recipe above when I worked it out comes to a total of 2,194 cal. 52.7 grams of fiber. and 66 grams of fat. Divided out between 4 people that’s 548.5 cal per serving, 13.75 grams of fiber and 16.5 grams of fat. That is more then reasonable for a diet now days, it would be under the calories they would be eating per meal during ww 2 rationing in England. I’m pretty sure they would have been eating this with some thing else too, considering they would have had to get in 3,000 calories a day. Interestingly enough the carbs when you subtract the fiber are less then what is recommended in a meal for a diabetic. Even though the serving is crazy what’s actually in it, is very healthy. If you’re interested the carbs per servings are 61 grams, subtract 13.75 and you have 47.25. The diabetics I’ve taken care of can have anywhere from 60-70 carbs (in grams) a meal. Depending on male/female.

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  18. These pasties wer often used for people down the coal pits or similar. Their roots go back hundreds of years. hence the cornish pasty that had a big crust on one side for them to hold with dirty hands. They didnt eat that bit. Often they were sweet on one half and savoury the other half. A domestic home probably wouldnt have this much flour to use for one meal but this was likely to be a receipe for one of the war time kitchens or a school, where they fed the masses.

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