Vegetable Wellington (Easter Practice)

i’m a big fan of chef gordon ramsay and i watch every season of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares.  there are two dishes that are part of the Hell’s Kitchen menu every season and almost every seating: risotto and beef wellington.   i’ve have several opportunities to try different risottos as it isn’t difficult to find vegetarian versions.  beef wellington i had not even heard of until i’d already gone vegetarian. juicy, soft, red meat melting in your mouth enveloped in a buttery, flakey, pastry crust.  *drool* hey i didn’t give up meat because i didn’t like the taste!  but anyways i always wanted to try a wellington but thought that would never be happening.  until my mom told me about a place that had a fantastic salmon wellington.  i will on very rare occassions eat tuna, tilapia, or salmon… very rare.  this was an occassion i was willing, except she couldn’t remember where the place was and so we never went.  but that opened up an awareness that it could be made with other stuffings.  i eventually started to see mushroom wellingtons pop up on catering menus when i was doing wedding vendor research.  ding ding ding!  i love mushrooms! i love portabellos! oh but those are so expensive!  so the search continued for a wellington that would satisfy my vegetarianism and wallet.  intro vegetable wellingtons.  most have extensive ingredient lists, which isn’t a bad thing, except being a newb at this i wanted to KISS (keep it simple, stupid).  Vegetarian Time’s came through for me!  today i bought the ingredients for and began making their Vegetable Wellington Redux.  my hope is that it will turn out fantastic enough that we’ll want it again for Easter dinner.

oh and on a side note, gordon ramsay hates vegetarians for some reason so i find it humorous that it was one of his shows that inspired me to seek out and try this dish.  take that gordon, ya donkey!

issues during making: i’ve learned that i am not good with puff pastry sheets.  it seemed as though i had too much stuffing and i couldn’t really fold the sheets over the filling.  also, i’m cheap and don’t like paying more than $2 for anything hehe so paying about $4 for frozen phyllo dough, over $6 for the goat cheese, and $3.50 for a jar of pesto was not my cup of tea but hopefully it’s all worth it!  my dough wrapping skills need some work, the side split though, on the plus side, that gave me a cool picture!  oh and you might want to use two sheets of wax paper… mine stuck to the wellington a bit and was difficult to take off especially since it got soft from soaking in yummy juices.  perhaps some Pam spray?  also the recipe calls for bell peppers, which i used, but i think next time i’ll use artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers because i’m really not a bell pepper fan.  for your cooking pleasure, i’ve provided the recipe i used and any changes i made in blue.

Vegetables Wellington Redux

Ingredient List
Serves 8

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. asparagus, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (i used 1 red bell pepper and 1 green bell pepper)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (11/2 cups)
  • 1 5-oz. pkg. baby spinach leaves
  • 1 4-oz. jar prepared pesto sauce (smallest jar i found was 8 oz so i used half)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 17.3-oz. pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 10-oz. log fresh goat cheese, softened (could only find 5oz logs, i bought 2 and choose the “herb flavored” ones for extra pop)
  • 1 16-oz. jar prepared tomato sauce, warmed (seems stores around here sell only 15oz cans/jars, not 16 so i was an oz short… oh well!)

Directions

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, bell peppers, and onion, and sauté 5 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add spinach, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until spinach wilts. Stir in pesto. Cool.

2. Whisk egg in bowl, and set aside. Cut 15- x 10-inch piece of parchment paper, and set on work surface. Place 1 sheet puff pastry on parchment paper. Lift parchment with puff pastry, and place parchment-side-down in 9-inch loaf pan. Press pastry into pan, being careful not to let folds get caught in parchment and allowing excess parchment and pastry to hang over sides. Cut squares from second puff pastry sheet, and press onto short sides of parchment-covered pan to make dough shell. Prick bottom of puff pastry all over with fork.

3. Spread goat cheese over bottom of puff pastry (when it says “softened” in the ingredient list, it means it!  work it a little before spreading it on to make sure it’ll spread well.  i didn’t and wish i had). Top with asparagus mixture. Fold excess puff pastry over vegetables, and brush edges with egg.

4. Cut 91/2- x 51/2-inch piece of puff pastry from remaining sheet. Set on top of asparagus mixture, pressing to seal edges. Refrigerate 30 minutes, along with unused pastry scraps and egg.

5. Preheat oven to 425°F, and place oven rack on second-lowest level. Brush top of Wellington with egg, and poke 2 or 3 holes in top. Cut decorative leaves and stems from remaining pastry, press onto top of Wellington, and brush with egg. Use tip of small knife to score leaves and top with decorative touches.  (i didn’t do the decorative florishes… that’s beyond my current level… for now!)

6. Bake Wellington 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350°F, and bake 45 minutes more. Cool 15 minutes.

7. Use parchment to lift Wellington from loaf pan. Remove parchment, and transfer Wellington to flat serving plate. Slice, and serve with tomato sauce.

Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 slice wellington and 1/4 cup sauce):
Calories: 405
Protein: 15g
Total fat: 29g
Saturated fat: 11g
Carbs: 25g
Cholesterol: 48m
Sodium: 657mg
Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 6g

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Fat Tuesday Dinner – Vegetarian Jambalya & Biscuits – February 21, 2012

since i couldn’t go to New Orleans for mardi gras, and i didn’t want to spend my fat tuesday getting fatter on margaritas  in the bar, i decided that tonight i’d cook a dinner for us befitting of the holiday – meatless jambalya and spicy cheese biscuits.  when i was in my early 20’s i worked at an elementary school.  we had pot lucks often and for a couple of these pot lucks, our principal would make and share jambalya.  i fell in love! it was fantastic!  but since then, i haven’t met a jambalya that i’ve enjoyed even close to as much.  since going vegetarian, i’ve had a hard time even finding a jambalya i can eat!  so when i saw this recipe on MeatlessMondays.com i thought “what the hell… why not?”  after all i’m trying to become a better cook, that isn’t going to happen if i’m too intimidated to try anything!  and the recipe looked fast and simple enough with relatively few ingredients compared to other recipes i’d found.

i can say that this was the first jambalaya i’ve actually enjoyed since those pot luck days!  it was flavorful but not over powering, and it got better the longer it sat.  my second helping (yep, good enough for seconds!) was even tastier than the first because the rice had soaked up even more of the juicy tomatoey goodness.  yes these are real words… i’m an english teacher, i can say whatever i want!

so i’m providing the recipe below for both the jambalaya & biscuits and, best part of all, pictures!!

Meatless Jambalaya & Spicy Cheese Biscuits

Meatless Jambalaya – c/o meatlessmondays.com

1 can (28 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes (i used garlic flavored from Target)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup quick cooking brown rice (i used Target brand multi-grain blend 8.8oz packets.  i don’t usually like the taste of most plain brown rices but i didn’t want to sacrafice too much nutrional value.  only 1 g carb more and less 1 g fiber so it seemed like an okay substitute.  nutrition and flavor ftw!)
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, or to taste (Tapatio)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 can (16 ounces) black eyed peas, drained (hard to find *not* flavored with bacon so you may want to consider buying dry and soaking all day)
Chopped parsley or chives, for garnish

Directions: Combine tomatoes, onion, broth, rice, garlic, bay leaves, basil, thyme and hot pepper sauce in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. While rice is cooking, cut green pepper into 1-inch pieces and dice yellow squash. Stir into stew and reduce heat to medium. Stir in black eyed peas, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring once. Remove and discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Bisquick Biscuits 

Spicy Cheesy Biscuits

2 1/4 cup Bisquick mix
2/3 cup 1% milk (use any % you want)
splash in hot sauce (Tapatio) to taste
drop in shredded cheese to taste

Pour all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until dough is formed.  I did not measure either the hot sauce or the cheese since I was just experimenting around.  But I suggest using a lot of both!  Box directions say to knead the dough but it was too messy so I didn’t heh Instead, I used a dinner spoon sprayed with Pam cooking spray to scoop out dough and drop it into a cupcake tin.  You can also use a regular baking sheet, but again there was a directions I didn’t feel like following (cutting out circular shapes) so I used the tins 😀  As you can see, they turned out fantastic!