When I picked up the December/January issue of Delicious magazine, I admit I was instantly drawn to the pages of incredible sweet creations offered by the publication. What I didn't expect, however, was a section dedicated to vegetarian Christmas dishes. Could it really be?! I was excited to say the least... it really isn't that often that vegetarian dishes get much of a look-in at this time of year, so a special feature by Jamie Oliver was a special surprise :)
No tofurkey here (yes - tofu if the shape of a turkey.. something I've never been able to get my head around...), but rather an interesting take on a classic - the Beef Wellington.When I turned to Jamie's Mushroom & Pumpkin Wellington I knew it would be a contender for a place at the Christmas table on the 25th, so I did a trial run today for dinner. There is quite a lot of work in this dish, but like a lot of Christmas dishes, the preparation is almost therapeutic and the result is rewarding. This beef-free wellington is packed with Christmassy flavours.. I especially love the sage and chestnuts in this dish, really delicious along with the flaky pastry.
Mushroom & Pumpkin Wellington
Adapted Jamie Oliver recipe from Delicious magazine (December 2010/January 2011 issue)
1 small butternut pumpkin (halved lengthways, seeds scooped out, peeled and cut into thick wedges)
1 small dired chilli, crumbled
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 rosemary sprig, leaves chopped
2 red onions, sliced
75g chestnuts, roughly chopped
small bunch sage leaves (around 8-10 leaves picked)
2 slices sourdough bread
3 garlic cloves
50g unsalted butter
250g swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
large bunch English spinach, trimmed
1/3 c pine nuts
2 tbsp sultanas
4 squares ready-made puff pastry
1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Toss the pumpkin wedges into a large baking pan with a splash of oil, the chilli and cinnamon - rub the pumpkin well to coat. Bash coriander seeds along with a little coarse salt in a pestle and mortar until fine, then add the rosemary and bash again for a minute or two until aromatic. Scatter this evenly over the pumpkin then cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until soft. Cool, then tear into bite size chunks.
2. Meanwhile, place a pan on medium heat and add a splash of oil and cook the onion. Season well and cook gently for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned. Add the chestnuts and sage to the pan for the last few minutes of cooking.
3. While that's happening, toast the sourdough and rub with the cut sides of one of the garlic cloves. Tear the toast into small chunks, and once the onion is done, add the toast to the pan and mix everything together. Switch the heat off and season a little more and add the lemon zest. Set mixture aside.
4. Melt butter in a clean pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms and one clove of garlic, thinly sliced. Cook the mushrooms to 4-6 minutes until soft and quite dry. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper, then tip into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Set puree aside.
5. Bring a large pan of salted water to boil and blanch the spinach briefly (around 30 seconds). Drain in a colander and press lightly to get rid of excess fluid, then place to one side.
6. Place a small dry pan over medium heat and toast the pine nuts for 1 minute until light brown. Tip onto a plate. Thinly slice remaining garlic clove. Return the pan to the heat and add a splash of oil, then the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes before adding the pine nuts, sultanas and spinach. Fry everything together until warmed through and smelling delicious. Season well and turn off the heat.
7. Once almost fully defrosted. lay the squares of pastry on top of each other, leaving a 1 cm overlap between each. Roll out between baking paper to an even 2mm thickness, and the approximate dimensions of an A3 piece of paper. Spread the mushroom mixture all over, leaving a 1cm gap on the edges of all 4 sides of the pastry (I forgot to do this, but it's fairly important once you're sealing up the wellington).
8. In a large bowl, combined the pumpkin, onions and spinach mixtures.
Spoon in a thick line down the middle of the pastry. Hold one side of the paper and lift it with the pastry, towards the centre of the wellington so it starts to cover the filling.
Peel the paper back, leaving the pastry in place. Brush some eggwash along the centre edge and pull the other side of pastry over it so that it overlaps, containing the filling in a log shape. Brush the ends with eggwash and fold in the pastry to seal it. Carefully roll onto a lined baking tray, with the sealed side down. Brush all over with egg wash and score lightly in a criss-cross fashion.
9. Bake for 45 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius, until puffed and golden. Slice thickly to serve.
So, the verdict on Jamie Olier's vegetarian wellington recipe? It's tasty, it's certainly Christmassy, and it looks great... It is a time consuming dish to make, but something like this wellington would be ideal at Christmas in a cold climate because it is so warming and comforting. I don't think this is quite the 'it' dish I was after for the Christmas menu, but good thing the Delicious magazine has plenty more recipes for me to try... If only I had more time to sample them all!
So, to all the vegetarians/vegans out there, what's your ideal savoury Christmas dish?