An impressive vegan or veggie centrepiece
For more on veggie and vegan ethical Christmas cooking, read Jenny’s recent blog
500g fresh spinach
4 tbsp olive oil (or butter if you prefer)
3 large brown onions, peeled and sliced
3 sprigs of thyme
500g chestnut or portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped to bite-size
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked
200g cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
25g ground oats or wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp madeira/vegan red wine
500g puff pastry (butter-free if making it vegan)
For the topping:
100g Stilton, crumbled or 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes and 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
For the glaze:
Beaten egg yolk with 1 tbsp milk or 3 tbsp soya, oat or nut milk
Cook the spinach in a large pan with the lid on by placing it over a gentle heat with the residual moisture from washing the leaves and steaming until the leaves collapse and wilt. Place the spinach between 2 bowls and squeeze out any excess moisture—this can be drunk or kept for a sauce later. Chop the spinach roughly and season.
Fry the onions with the thyme in half of the olive oil for at least 20 mins until caramelised. Season and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms with the garlic in the remaining oil until they brown and release all their moisture (or you will be in for soggy pastry).
Remove the porcini from their soaking water and chop finely (the stock will be fantastic in any gravies or sauces). Now stir the porcini, the mushrooms, the chestnuts, oats, flax seeds and sherry together. Taste and season, then place in the fridge while you roll out the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll the pastry to about a 25 x 35cm rectangle and place on a sheet of baking paper. Now spread half of the fried onions down the middle third of the pastry (leaving a 3cm margin at the top and bottom). Follow this with a layer of spinach and then the mushroom and chestnut mixture. Finish with another layer of onion and spinach and then the topping is up to you—just sprinkle over your crumbled cheese or spread a little mustard over the spinach and add the yeast flakes.
Brush the edge of the pastry with your glaze and fold in the edges of the pastry to make a seam down the centre. Roll the wellington over (the paper will help), tuck under the ends and use any pastry trimmings you have to decorate the top (holly leaves, perhaps, for a festive number). You can refrigerate the wellington at this stage until you are ready to cook and serve it.
To bake, place the wellington on a baking tray, brush with the glaze and bake for 20-30 mins until golden brown. Stand for 5 mins before slicing with a serrated knife and serving hot.
To serve you can accompany the wellington with an onion gravy or traditional Christmas cranberry sauce, but it is very juicy so there is not much need for a sauce if you have plenty of luscious vegetables. It is the perfect match for my parsnip and cauliflower mash.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler