Christmas is the perfect occasion to be inventive with your cooking, and this Vegan Butternut Squash and Mushroom Wellington recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s a substantial main course that has so much flavour your guests will be abandoning their potatoes and asking you for more. This recipe uses butternut squash as a base, which is cooked in paprika and cinnamon to give it a wonderful festive taste. The squash is layered with spinach, béchamel sauce, dried apricots and walnuts, and encased in puff pastry. Salivating yet? We are!
Vegan Butternut Squash and Walnut Wellington
Recipe by Richard Church (www.richardchurchphoto.com)
Serves: 6 | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: Approx. 1 hour | Cooling time: 1 hour
- 1 block ready-made puff pastry (or gluten-free alternative), brought up to room temperature
- Knob of vegan margarine, for greasing
- Dairy-free milk, for basting.
For the squash:
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground paprika
- 3-4 tbsp cold water
- Salt and pepper to season
For the béchamel:
- 1 tbsp vegan margarine
- 1 tbsp flour (gluten-free if using that option)
- 200ml dairy-free milk
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper
For the filling:
- 1 bag/160g fresh baby spinach
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 75g dried apricots, chopped
- 50g walnut pieces, chopped
- You will also need clingfilm and a large baking tray
- First cook the butternut squash. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the squash. Cook for 15-20 minutes on a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the pieces are soft and can be broken up easily. After 10 minutes of cooking add the paprika, cinnamon and salt and pepper and stir in. You will probably need to add a few tablespoons of water towards the end to help with the cooking and stop it drying out too much. Mash the cooked squash slightly, making sure there are still plenty of lumps, and set aside.
- Now make your béchamel. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan and then take the pan off the heat and add the flour. Use a whisk to bring them together. It will immediately form a thick lump at the bottom of the pan. Add the milk, a little at a time, until you get a paste consistency, then put the pan back on the heat and continue adding the milk, whisking as you go to prevent lumps from forming. Add the nutritional yeast and season to taste. Cook on a low heat for about 4 minutes and then set aside. The béchamel will start to thicken as it cools, which is what we want. Just whisk it occasionally to stop a skin forming.
- Wilt the spinach by cooking it with a few tablespoons of water for about 4 minutes, and then drain in a sieve. Use a spoon to squeeze out as much of the spinach water as you can. Now you are ready to assemble your filling.
- Tear off a strip of clingfilm about 18 inches long and place it on your worktop. Spoon the mashed butternut squash onto the film, forming a line about 11 inches long and 4 wide. Spoon the cooled and thickened béchamel sauce on top of the squash, trying not to spill any over the sides. It should be thick enough to do this easily. Use your fingers to spread the spinach out over the top of the béchamel and then sprinkle the apricots and walnuts on top of that. Bring the sides of the clingfilm together, so that the filling becomes sausage-shaped, then twist the ends to seal it. Put this on a plate in the fridge for an hour to cool completely.
- Grease a large baking tray and preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
- On a floured surface, roll out your pastry to about 14-15 inches long and 10 inches wide. Place this on the baking tray and then put your chilled filling, upside down, onto the middle of the pastry. Carefully remove the clingfilm without disturbing the filling too much.
- Now brush all around the visible pastry with the dairy-free milk. Bring the sides of the pastry together, just like you did the clingfilm, and press one on top of the other to seal. Brush any areas with milk that haven’t been done. Press down each end and tuck them in, pinching them with your fingers to seal.
- Now carefully turn the whole thing over so that the sealed bits of pastry are hidden at the bottom.
- Brush the top with the milk and then gently score diagonal slices only a tiny way into the pastry with a sharp knife. Now score diagonal slices the other way so that you end up with diamond shapes.
- Cook towards the bottom of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is risen and browned. If you’ve scored it correctly you’ll have raised diamonds on the top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then slice into six and serve.
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Going Vegan by Richard Church, features over 100 plant-based recipes, many of which are gluten-free, as well as advice for the new and established vegan.
Going Vegan is available to purchase on Amazon.
About the author
Richard Church is a portrait photographer and plant-based food blogger living and working in London. He’s been passionate about food since he was thirteen years old, when he made his first pizza from a cookbook. In the spring of 2014, he decided on a whim to go vegan. Richard was a voracious meat eater up until then and thought he would last about 2 weeks before giving up. But he’s never looked back…
You can find more delicious recipes on Richard’s website, www.richardchurchphoto.com, and on his Facebook page.