Having reported a 105 per cent spike in vegan orders since last November, new research from Deliveroo suggests as many as 20 per cent of Brits intend on eating a vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner this year. The poll, which involved 2,000 respondents, also found that almost 60 per cent of those deciding to go plant-based for Christmas had made the transition within the past four years, with many citing their reasons for going meatless as expecting to cater for other vegans and vegetarians.
Until quite recently, however, vegetarian and vegan Christmas dinners have tended to come across as an afterthought: a shame considering there are so many opportunities to present vegan guests with highly impressive, cruelty-free options. This vegan squash wellington, for instance, is an impressive substitute to traditional turkey, or often lacklustre plant-based options. It’s also relatively simple to make at home, and can even be prepared in advance of the big day – ultimately cutting unnecessary stress from your Christmas cooking routine.
In place of traditional fillet steak, a large wedge of pre-roasted butternut squash features, combined with a stuffing that’s a rough play on classic mushroom duxelles. To prepare the vegan squash wellington, the butternut squash is peeled and cut in half length ways, providing two long pieces of squash. Those two pieces are then sliced again (this time width-ways), as closely as possible to the cavernous part of the squash containing the seeds. The long, thinner parts are then roasted and used in place of fillet steak, while the bulbous end containing the seeds is de-seeded and roughly chopped. It’s worth saving the seeds for another recipe, while the roughly chopped squash is also roasted until soft, then chopped or blended and mixed into the stuffing, which contains shallot, wild mushrooms, chestnuts, breadcrumbs, and a generous amount of sage.
Once cooled, it’s all then wrapped in puff pastry and baked – best served with typical vegetarian or vegan Christmas dinner trimmings, plus a rich red wine gravy.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 150 g wild mushrooms finely chopped
- 8 cooked chestnuts finely chopped
- 6 leaves fresh sage finely chopped
- 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 sheets Vegan puff pastry approx. 800g
- Plant-based milk to taste
- Neutral cooking oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
- Peel the butternut squash, then cut in half from top-to-bottom. Scoop out the seeds and set aside for another recipe, then slice the butternut squash in half, width ways, as close to the cavernous part containing the seeds. You should be left with two long, thin pieces, and two bulbous pieces. Cut the bulbous quarters into relatively small pieces, then season with salt and place in the oven.
- Brush the two longer pieces with oil and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Season with a pinch of salt and transfer to the oven and cook on the top shelf for around 30-40 minutes (dependent on size and shape) until almost cooked. Allow these pieces to cool down completely before using.
- While the butternut squash is cooling, heat a splash of oil in a heavy-based pan and add the diced shallots. Cook over a medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent, then add the sage, chopped mushrooms, and chestnuts. Season with salt and pepper, then continue to cook for another five minutes or so, then add a tablespoon or two of the breadcrumbs, and the chopped, roasted butternut squash, then mix to combine. Leave to cool.
- Once the butternut squash pieces and the stuffing have cooled, roll out two sheets of puff pastry, large enough to generously host the filling. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs between the two sheets, then top each with a layer of the stuffing (around the same width as the large squash pieces), then top with the butternut squash, followed by a little more stuffing to surround the squash.
- Brush the edges of the pastry with some plant-based milk, then add another slightly larger layer of pastry to the top of each wellington. Gently press down and crimp the edges to seal, but be careful to avoid breaking the pastry. If the pastry does break, the gaps can be sealed with pastry offcuts.
- Brush each wellington with plant-based milk, then make three shallow incisions to allow steam to escape while cooking.
- Place the wellingtons in the oven and cook at 200C/Gas 6 for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to stand for five minutes before slicing.
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