Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vegetable Wellington

A Perfect Holiday Vegetarian Entree!
I don't remember where I spotted a recipe for Veggie Wellington, but the sight of vegetables wrapped in puff pastry must have made a lasting impression. As I planned our Thanksgiving menu, the idea kept surfacing so I decided to give it a try, but since I couldn't find the recipe, I improvised. I don't think I've ever worked with puff pastry, so I decided to go for the store-bought stuff and grabbed a box at Trader Joe's. Life has been a little busy lately, so although I prefer to make as much as I can from scratch, this seemed like an OK compromise, especially given the work + school + drive from Boston to Long Island pre-Thanksgiving week of insanity.

Cranberry Sauce
I woke up (relatively) early this morning and got to work prepping. In addition to the Veggie Wellington, I whipped up a butternut squash lasagna (I'll post that recipe soon, too, so keep your eyes peeled), a string bean casserole, and rosemary mashed potatoes for our vegetarian Thanksgiving feast. I also made a mushroom gravy and served some of my Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce. Needless to say, there are LOTS of leftovers!


Chopped Veggies Ready to be Seasoned and Roasted
For the Veggie Wellington, I roasted seasonal veggies for 20 minutes at 400 and let them cool before tossing them with some homemade pesto and some goat cheese. Then we (it was a team effort) spooned the veggies over the defrosted rolled-out puff pastry, pulled the dough to surround the veggies, flipped the pouch, massaged it with some beaten egg, and baked it for 20 minutes at 400. It was pretty easy and turned out to be a beautiful and delicious turkey-stand-in.
Roasted Fall Veggies (feel free to sample!)
The veggies:
1/2 a butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 Brussels sprouts, halved
1 blue potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
12 baby carrots, halved
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Throw all the veggies in a large pan. Sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper, a few teaspoon of fresh minced herbs (I used rosemary and thyme), and a pinch of kosher salt. Coat with a couple tb of the oil of your choice (I used olive oil, which isn't ideal for roasting, but works if you don't have any high-heat oils available).  
Pesto Coated Roasted Veggies. MMMM.
The pesto:
I usually use the recipe from my VitaMix cookbook:
1/2 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 medium Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 c fresh basil leaves
3 tb toasted pine nuts
Salt & Pepper to taste
Sometimes, I leave out the cheese and add walnuts. Sometimes, I throw a bunch of parsley in with the basil. You don't need a high-powered blender to make pesto. Any food processor will do the trick! 

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer to allow to defrost for 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to put it too close to the oven (heat makes it puff!). Preaheat the oven to 400. 

While the puff pastry is defrosting, dollop a few heaping tablespoons of pesto atop the roasted veggies. Add a couple tablespoons of goat cheese (crumble it off the log). Stir to combine, coating the veggies in pesto and mixing the goat cheese throughout. Go ahead. Sneak a pesto-coated potato. Nobody will know the difference. You deserve it. :-)
Roll the Puff Pastry to Your Preferred Thickness.  The Thicker, the Doughier.

Spoon the Roasted Veggies onto the Center of the Dough.
Pull the corners of the dough around the veggies to meet top/center. Pinch the dough together to seal the pouch.

Don't be Shy About Pulling/Stretching the Dough; Just Don't be TOO Rough.

Pull the Edges of the Dough Together and Pinch to form Pouch.
 It doesn't have to be perfect. Nobody will see the seam.
Flip the Pouch Over so Seam is Bottom-Side-Down.
If you don't have a brush for the egg, just massage the egg onto the dough with your hands.
Brush with a Beaten Egg for a Golden Finish.
Place veggie-filled pastry seam-side-down on parchment lined baking sheet (with edges just in case it oozes). Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Out of the Oven. Into our Tummies. We Ate the Small One. Who Wants Leftovers?
Carefully remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Thought: Maybe individually portioned wellingtons would work better for next year.  Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce or by itself. It's a rich dish and doesn't really need any toppings.
Way More Food Than Necessary for our Small Thanksgiving Celebration.
Because the puff pastry is full of oil and flour, I wouldn't make this kind of thing for a normal dinner, but I think it's a great dish for a special occasion, holiday, or dinner party. There's a lot of nutrition in the roasted veggies, but there's also a good deal of fat and refined carbs that I prefer not to make a habit of. 

QUESTION: What's the most creative vegetarian holiday entree you've ever prepared or enjoyed? I'm already starting to think about next year's Thanksgiving and need ideas!