Veggie en croute
This roasted veggie en croute is a real show-stopper – the perfect centrepiece for your vegetarian Christmas dinner!
Who’s started planning their Christmas dinner already? I never cook Christmas dinner for my family (my parents or in-laws always host!), but I still love playing around with festive main courses at this time of year. Any excuse to bust out the pastry! This roasted veggie en croute is fancy enough that it’s worthy of your Christmas table, but easy enough that you could also quite happily make it at any other time of year. And it’s absolutely delicious too!
What’s an ‘en croute’?
‘En croute’ (or, technically, ‘en croûte’) is French for ‘in a crust’. It’s basically anything that’s cooked inside an outer layer of pastry. Yes, you could call it a strudel, or a wellington, or a parcel, or even a giant sausage roll, but I think ‘en croute’ sounds so much more elegant – and it’s definitely worth getting your French on when you’re trying to feel fancy.
This roasted veggie en croute is a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and completely delicious – all sorts of amazing flavours that go so well together.
Roasted vegetable filling
First up, those gorgeous roasted vegetables!
The veggies inside your en croute need to be cooked before you wrap them in the pastry, otherwise they’ll release some liquid as they cook, and everything will end up a bit soggy. You can cook your veg in a pan if you prefer, but personally I think it’s 100% worth the extra bit of (hands-off!) time to roast them in the oven – roasted veg are always so much tastier.
I stuffed my roasted veggie en croute with sweet potato, peppers, mushrooms, onion, and kale (along with another couple of tasty ingredients!). The sweetness of the roasted peppers and sweet potato adds to the festive feel of the dish, and who doesn’t love roasted mushrooms and onions? The kale only takes a few minutes to roast, so add that right at the end – the frilly bits just start to crisp up, and add a wonderful flavour to an otherwise pretty boring green veg.
What else could I put in my veggie en croute?
Along with those gorgeous, colourful roasted vegetables, I added some pumpkin seeds and crumbled feta cheese. The seeds add a nice little crunch, and a bit of protein, and the saltiness of the feta is perfect against the sweet roasted vegetables.
If you’re not feeling my choice of additions, you can basically add whatever other ingredients you like to your veggie en croute:
– some tinned beans or lentils
– chopped walnuts, or any other nuts or seeds
– grated cheddar
– a dollop of basil pesto
– chopped fresh herbs
– a spoonful of cranberry sauce
Then, just wrap it up!
How to wrap your veggie en croute
Honestly, however you end up wrapping your roasted vegetable filling in pastry, it’s going to end up tasting amazing. But if you want it to be an eye-catching centrepiece to your table, there are things you can do to make it extra beautiful!
Firstly, make sure you fold the ends in far enough that there’s no risk of them coming unraveled. Then fold up the sides, and seal everything together tightly with a dab of milk (I don’t have a pastry brush so I just dip my finger in the milk and use that – my finger is easier to clean than a brush too!).
Ideally, you now want to flip the whole thing over – it will give you more of a blank canvas on top for decorating, as well as helping to hold those seams closed so nothing comes open as it cooks. Don’t try to pick it up in your hands (are you nuts?) – stick another baking tray on top, with a piece of baking paper already in place, and flip the whole thing over.
Then, decorate it! I scored a light criss cross pattern in mine (careful you don’t cut all the way through!), and added some pastry leaves so I could feel extra fancy. The holes on top let the steam out, so the pastry ends up perfectly crispy.
Festive vegetarian main course
This roasted veggie en croute is perfect for Christmas dinner – am I the only one who feels like pastry automatically feels a bit festive? I try to avoid pastry for most of the year, since it’s not exactly the most nutritious of ingredients, but from November to January, it’s fair game. All the pastry please.
For Christmas, I’d serve this veggie en croute alongside the usual roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy (and not forgetting the crucial bread sauce!), but if you’re making it at any other time of year, it’s also great served simply with some salad on the side.
However you serve it, you’ll love it!
Roasted veggie en croute
- 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1cm dice
- 3 bell peppers, cut into 2cm dice (I used red, yellow and green)
- 1 onion or red onion, diced
- ~ 6 medium mushrooms, diced
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large handful curly kale, roughly chopped
- 100 g (~ 3 1/2 oz) feta cheese, roughly crumbled
- 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- Black pepper
- 1 roll ready-made puff pastry
- 1 tbsp milk
- Spray oil
- Spread the diced sweet potato, peppers, onion and mushrooms across a baking tray, and drizzle with oil. Mix thoroughly to coat, then bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 1 hour, until they're soft and just starting to crisp up (you can also spread the veggies across two trays to speed up cooking time if you prefer!). Add the kale, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until just starting to crisp up on the edges.
- Transfer the roasted vegetables to a mixing bowl, and add the crumbled feta cheese and pumpkin seeds. Season generously. Mix to combine, and set aside to cool.
- Roll out the puff pastry, and cut it into a large rectangle (mine measured around 10 x 11 inches, but slightly larger would be okay too!). Lay it onto a chopping board. When the filling has cooled, pile it up in the centre of the pastry, leaving a few inches of pastry around the edges.
- Fold the two shorter ends of the pastry tightly over the filling, then do the same with the longer ends, making sure they meet in the middle. Use a little dab of milk to help seal the pastry closed.
- Lay a sheet of non-stick baking paper on a baking tray, and spray it thoroughly with oil. Place it face-down onto the top of the pastry parcel. Lift the chopping board and, holding the pastry parcel firmly between them, flip it over so that the parcel is now the other way up on the baking tray. Use your hands to reshape the parcel slightly if needed (e.g. rounding the corners).
- Cut two holes in the top of the parcel to allow any steam to escape. If you like, you can also decorate it - use a knife to gently score a criss cross pattern on top, being careful not to cut all the way through, and use any pastry scraps to create little leaf shapes (stick them on with more milk).
- Lightly brush the entire parcel with milk, and bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for a further 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crispy.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/4 of the recipe.