The 25th January (next Wednesday) is Burns Night, celebrated each year in remembrance of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. I’m not Scottish, nor am I a particular fan of poetry, but despite that I’ve celebrated Burns Night a few times now. It’s a good reason to get together with friends and eat something a bit different, and there’s a nice sense of occasion (one year we made deep fried Mars bars!). Any excuse for a party… and deep fried chocolate (though I’m not sure I’d make them again!).
Of course, if you’re eating a Scottish-inspired meal, something involving haggis is the obvious choice – but rather than serving it on its own, I decided to make this vegetarian haggis and mushroom wellington. I’m super impressed with it.
Don’t be put off by the word ‘haggis’ if you’ve never had it before. I’m aware that the standard meaty version sounds far from appetising, especially to a vegetarian (I’ve never actually tried it for obvious reasons, so I can’t comment on its taste) – but the veggie version is flippin’ delicious.
One of these days I’ll make my own homemade vegetarian haggis, but for the purposes of this haggis and mushroom wellington, I used a shop-bought one. I use Macsweens brand, and I absolutely love it, though other brands might be good too if you can’t find that one. It’s made from oats, lentils, beans and veggies (which sounds much more appetising, doesn’t it?).
To make the haggis and mushroom wellington, I just crumbled up the haggis and cooked it with the mushroom stems and a good handful of kale (for no other reason than I had a big bag in the fridge and wanted to use it up – you can pretty much add whatever you fancy), and wrapped it in puff pastry along with some roasted portobello mushrooms.
Served with the traditional accompaniments of neeps and tatties (aka swede and mashed potatoes), it makes a brilliant Scottish-inspired Burns Night supper.
And, not forgetting another important aspect of any Scottish celebration – whisky! (without the extra ‘e’ – whiskey is the Irish spelling).
The lovely people at Balblair sent me three beautiful bottles of whisky to serve alongside my Scottish feast – single malts from 2005, 1999 and 1990, which get deeper in colour and richer in flavour as they age, and are all distilled in the Scottish Highlands.
Obviously in my current condition, I wasn’t able to sample the whisky myself, but my husband very graciously agreed to give it a taste on my behalf. To be honest he didn’t put up much of a fight (there are benefits to having a food blogger for a wife!).
According to my non-connoisseur husband, the flavour was rich and smooth, and he very much enjoyed sipping on a wee dram alongside his vegetarian haggis and mushroom wellington. It definitely added to the Scottish vibe of our dinner and gave an extra sense of occasion!
Now, to wait until June when I can give it a taste myself (I’m thinking the birth of your first child is a good reason to bust open the 1990 vintage, no?).
Vegetarian haggis and mushroom wellington
- 4 portobello mushrooms
- 1 tbsp oil
- 500 g vegetarian haggis, roughly crumbled (~ 2 1/2 cups when crumbled)
- ~ 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 2 large handfuls kale, finely chopped
- 375 g ready-rolled puff pastry (enough for a rectangle measuring ~ 16 x 11 inches)
- 1 tbsp milk for glazing (use vegan milk if necessary)
- Remove the stems from the portobello mushrooms (set them aside for later), and place the mushrooms face down on a baking tray. Drizzle lightly with oil, and roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 25 minutes, until they are soft and have released all of their liquid.
- Finely chop the mushroom stems, and add them to a large frying pan along with the crumbled haggis, the thyme leaves and the finely chopped kale. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mushroom stems and kale have cooked right down and the mixture is well combined.
- When the haggis mixture and the portobello mushrooms are cooked, set both aside to cool - you can put them in the fridge for a while if you like. Ideally you want them to be completely cool before you add them to the pastry, but a little bit of remaining heat is okay.
- If needed, roll the pastry out to form a rectangle measuring approximately 16 x 11 inches - it'll be easier later if you do this on a sheet of baking paper. Add about two thirds of the cooled haggis mixture along the centre of the pastry, and form into a log shape (see photos if needed). Lay the roasted portobellos on top, and finish with the remaining haggis mixture. Press it down firmly to give a solid log shape.
- Fold the short ends of the pastry over the filling (you can cut away any excess pastry from the corners if you like), then the long edges. Seal by pressing the pastry together.
- Carefully turn the wellington over onto a lined, greased baking tray, so that the join in the pastry is underneath (I found it easiest to do this by laying the lined baking tray on top of the wellington, lifting the sheet of baking paper that the wellington was sitting on, and then quickly flipping it over.
- Cut several slits in the top of the wellington, and brush with milk.
- Bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 35-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crispy all over. Cut into slices to serve.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/6 of the mushroom wellington.