A few years ago, when I was still eating meat, one of my sisters started the journey to vegan eating. Christmas dinner for the extended family was at my house, so I ambitiously decided to provide a vegan roast along with the regular turkey. Somewhere I found a recipe that used wheat gluten and nutritional yeast- things I had never heard of at that time. I boiled up a bland, chewy chunk of seitan with no seasonings to speak of. In a pathetic attempt at humour and to dress it up, I covered it in a paper bag shaped (vaguely) like a turkey. (I can’t believe I still have a picture of it- odd camera angle notwithstanding. Those are radish “mice” by the way, made by my daughter. In our family we clearly all work together in a crisis, anything to distract from the roast itself). My poor sister dutifully took a small slice and somehow managed to get it down, but it was not good food. We have a new term in our family, though, as it is again my turn to provide the meatless “paper bag turkey”.
My vegan cooking skills have come a long way since then, so I’m expecting more success with my offerings for this year’s dinner. Also, there are now ready-made alternatives that actually taste good, so I will buy a pre-stuffed seitan celebration roast. I decided I wanted another alternative main dish, and my thoughts went quickly to mushrooms. We have an amazing abundance of mushrooms here in the Pacific Northwest to provide a nice meaty texture and irresistible taste, so I quickly settled on a mushroom Wellington. This weekend I experimented a bit and came up with a fine version that I plan to repeat on the big day with only one change. I wrapped the portabellos up raw, but on Christmas I will give them a quick pre-cooking start (noted in the final recipe here) to ensure they are the right texture when the puff pastry is ready.
Jo’s Mushroom Wellie
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 1 sheet vegan puff pastry
- 2 cups (or more) various mushrooms as available
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 6 green onions or shallots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp sage
- 1-2 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 1-2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/8 cup ground flax seed
- dijon mustard
- 1/8 cup engevita or nutritional yeast flakes
- 3 teaspoons vegan spread
- lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- For the duxelles: Finely chop spinach, the 2 cups of mushrooms (not portabellos, though I included the extra stems), green onions, garlic, spices, mustard seeds, ground flax seed and nuts. Melt the vegan spread in a pan, add the chopped mixture, and cook over med. heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with pepper to taste.
- Scrape the gills from the portobello mushrooms with a spoon and bake for 10 minutes. I also added the portobello stems to the duxelles.
- Roll out the puff pastry into a large rectangle. (For ease in transfer, it makes sense to put the pastry on parchment paper after rolling it out and before filling it.)
- Spread a layer of the duxelles into the centre of the pastry. Place the portabellos on top of the duxelles (I filled in the spaces with a few extra mushrooms to create a rectangle).
- Spread dijon mustard thinly over the portabellos and sprinkle the engevita yeast over all. Cover with the rest of the duxelles.
- Fold the puff pastry over top and join the edges. I cut slices into the pastry and crisscrossed it over shoelace style to let steam escape and give it a more decorative look.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.
This was moist, meaty, and tangy. I think that the flaxseed acted like a “flax egg” binder and made the duxelles a perfect consistency. The engevita gave it a bit of body and the mustard seed and dijon gave it a nice edge. Experiment with the spices and seasonings. In the future I may try it with a bit of marmite or vegemite to “beef” it up a little. You could have several variations to go with whatever mushrooms are in season or available in your area. I just used organic white and cremini mushrooms here because they were on sale, and I wanted to get the recipe figured out before trying more creative combinations. A good red wine sauce would finish it off very nicely, I think!