This is the season, more than any other, of celebrations.
In the spirit of welcome, the hope of reconciliation, and the dream of together, let us remember that food unites us. Cultures are, in large part, defined by their cuisines, which are also our first introduction to other parts of the world. Our first connection with another human being in this world is with a parent cradling and feeding us.
Being from the South, my mother was the consummate host, which makes it no surprise that I am in the food service industry. I strive to create an inviting environment, full of good food. Most importantly, I want to create tradition while acknowledging people grow in different directions regardless of common origins. It is in that spirit that I offer the following recipe.
Mushroom Wellington, a vegetarian entrée, is a delicious stand-alone centerpiece as well as worthy of being presented next to your famous turkey.
Two things to keep in mind with this recipe:
- Caramelizing onions is a labor of love. Low and slow are the watchwords of the day. If your heat is too high, you will crisp or possibly burn the edges of your onions. It may take up to half an hour for onions to reach that perfect brown.
- You will want to pull your puff pastry out of the freezer about 20 to 25 minutes before you work with it. Puff pastry can be difficult to work with if it is still frozen or fully thawed.
4 large portobello mushrooms, stalks trimmed and cleaned
3 large onions, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
11 ounces baby spinach
4 sprigs’ worth of thyme leaves
1 vegan puff pastry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Vegan egg wash
1 tablespoon chickpea water
1 tablespoon almond or cashew milk
1 teaspoon neutral flavored oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or brown rice syrup
Place a large frying pan over a low to medium-low heat. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are golden brown.
Remove the onions from the pan and return the pan to the heat. Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted. Remove the baby spinach from the pan and set aside.
Increase the heat to medium/high and return the pan to the heat. Add the remaining olive oil and place the mushrooms, top side down. Cook until lightly golden (about five minutes) before turning over and cooking for a further five minutes or until golden. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towel top side up as they will release a lot of liquid as they cool. Transfer the onions, spinach and mushrooms to the refrigerator and cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a sheet of baking paper on the baking tray and then place the puff pastry sheet on top. Spread half the caramelized onions over the middle third of the pastry, making sure to leave a three-fourths- inch border at the edge of the pastry. Top with half of the baby spinach. Spread the Dijon mustard over the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms on top of the spinach.
Top the mushrooms with thyme and the remaining baby spinach and onions.
Very carefully roll the pastry over the top of the mushroom mixture until you have a log. Press down to seal the edges. Roll over the log so that the seam is facing the bottom.
To make the vegan egg wash, whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Very lightly coat with the vegan egg wash. Place the pastry in the freezer for 10 minutes before repeating with another layer of vegan egg wash.
Freeze once more for 10 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and flaky.