What is a Wellington, you may ask? In this context, it’s neither a Duke nor a boot, but a delicious savoury pie type dish, where you essentially wrap your filling in beautiful butter puff pastry. Although traditionally a Wellington is made with beef, I was able to make a vegetarian version by following my ever reliable and fave recipe meister Jamie Oliver. It went spectacularly with my vegetarian gravy and a cauliflower with broccoli-cheese sauce for Christmas dinner.
Note: this does take quite a lot of preparation time, not because it’s difficult, but because the filling has quite a lot of different steps, which = time-consuming. It’s definitely worth it though! (see Tips below for what you can prep ahead of time)
- 1 small butternut squash (halve, scrape out the seeds, then cut length ways into wedges)
- olive oil
- 1 tsp chilli powder (or 1 red small dried chilli, crumbled)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary (remove leaves and chop up)
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- sea salt & pepper
- 1 small bunch of fresh sage (or fresh basil – I used this and it worked well, though sage would give it more of that “poultry” seasoning taste)
- 100g flaked hazelnuts (aka filberts) [the recipe calls for vac-packed chestnuts but I couldn’t find any]
- 2 slices ciabatta (recipe called for sourdough but I had a ciabatta loaf for another recipe and it worked well)
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled; 1 x whole, 1 x chopped, 1 x sliced)
- 1 lemon (you’ll need zest and juice)
- 20g butter
- 250g brown mushrooms (slice thinly)
- 200g spinach or chard
- 50g pine nuts
- 500g all butter puff pastry (if you go store bought, and why wouldn’t you, here in Canada it tends to come in 2 large sheets, so I simply made 2x medium sized Wellingtons; make sure to read the defrosting directions so you have this defrosted in time – usually 2 hours outside of the fridge or overnight in the fridge)
- 1 egg
- 1 splash milk
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Prepping the filling:
- Add the squash wedges (skin side down) to a large roasting pan and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle over the chilli and cinnamon. If you have a pestle and mortar, then bash the coriander seeds until fine, then add the rosemary, and bash to release the flavour. Alternatively, crush the seeds with the bottom of a heavy glass and then blitz with the rosemary in a food processor. Spread over the squash and toss to make sure the seasoning and oil covers each piece. Cover the roasting pan with tin foil and bake for about 45 mins or until soft. Set aside to cool, and then tear into small chunks.
- Add some olive oil and the onion to a medium pan (medium heat). Season with S&P. Cook until softened and lightly brown. Add the sage/basil and the hazelnuts/chestnuts for the last few minutes of cooking.
- While the onion is cooking, toast the bread and then rub both slices on both sides with the 1 x whole clove of garlic. Tear the bread into small pieces and add to the onions (once these are cooked). Season with S&P if needed. Grate over the zest of the whole lemon.
- Add the butter to a frying pan (medium heat). When melted, add the mushrooms and the 1 x chopped garlic. Fry until soft. Squeeze over some lemon juice. When cool enough, throw into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste.
- Bring a large pot of water with a dash of salt to the boil and add the chard or spinach and cook until soft. Drain, press to get rid of any extra water, put aside.
- Add the 1 x sliced garlic to a frying pan with a dash of olive oil. Fry until golden. Add the pine nuts and spinach and fry until heated through. Season. Set aside.
Assembling the Wellington:
- If you have 2 separate sheets of pastry, then take these out of their plastic wrap one at a time (i.e. assemble them one at a time and ensure you halve the ingredients to make 2 separate Wellingtons). Mine came wrapped in parchment paper, which is perfect as you want to keep it on parchment paper to assemble. If you have one large pastry sheet, then roll it out on a parchment paper sheet to about 30cm x 40cm.
- Beat the egg with a splash of milk to make an egg wash.
- Open out/unroll the pastry and leave it on its parchment paper. Smear half of the mushroom paste mix all over the pastry. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, the squash, and the onion-bread mix. Spoon this mix in a thick line down the middle of the pastry. Make sure to leave space on either side, as you’ll be rolling/closing the pastry around the filling.
- Hold one side of the parchment paper and lift it up, with the pastry, towards the middle of the wellington so it starts to cover the filling (e.g. start with the left side first). Peel the parchment back, leaving the pastry in place over the filling. Then, do the same for the the other side, folding this in. Think of it as you’re folding one half and then the other over the filling to create a rectangular pie. The pastry should overlap in the middle.
- Brush the egg wash over the pastry to join the ‘seal’/centre fold together. Fold up the ends of the pastry so the filling doesn’t leak out and brush with egg wash. Then, carefully roll the Wellington onto a baking sheet, so that the centre ‘seal’ is on the bottom. Brush all over with the egg wash.
- Repeat if you have 2 sheets of pastry.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until the pastry has puffed up a bit and has gone nice and golden brown.
- Cut into large slices and serve hot with veggie gravy.
- Wear loose fitting pants…
Tips for prepping ahead of time:
Prep the various pieces of the filling (the first 1-6 steps). Store the mushroom mix in a container in the fridge separate from the rest of the filling mix. Mix the onion-bread, squash, and spinach mix together in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. When you’re reading to assemble your Wellington, then you can always add a bit more lemon juice to the mushroom. Toss the rest of the filling with a bit of olive oil if it seems like it might be a bit dry from the fridge. Then assemble as above.
Although the Wellington works really well reheated as leftovers, I’d probably avoid making the whole thing ahead of time and pre-baking as the pastry might burn when reheating.
- Use pumpkin instead of squash, or try it with cauliflower (I’d bake this for less time but season the same)
- Add shredded parmesan cheese on top of the filling mix before folding in the pastry
- Add decorative pastry pieces to the top of the Wellington or use a fork to make tine patterns along the edges