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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Veggie and Lentil Goodness

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After a week of eating vegan items only, I was getting a little sick of meat substitutes. To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense to try to emulate something like meat. You can't fake it, so don't bother.

And it's with this philosophy that I set about creating a main course that would be appetizing to my non-vegan guests, not too jarring to their palates and that didn't involve rice or stir-fry in any form (overload this week!).

I can't remember what I was doing, but the thought of phyllo pastry started dancing around my head. How can you go wrong with phyllo? I couldn't find a lot of pre-existing vegan meal ideas for phyllo, so I wanted to create my own concoction.

Friends, this is big.

I would serve this to anyone. It really was that good. A pain in the ass, to be sure, but delicious. I've never tasted anything quite like it and to think it's actually good and entirely meat/dairy and egg free is simply mindboggling. Something I also wanted to consider is that my serving plates are an off-white, so I wanted to ensure there was lots of colour and drama splashed across the plate (phyllo on an off-white plate would not be all that attractive). So I took a page from all of my favourite restaurants and decided to serve it on a bed of sweet potato purée.

But I was on a roll. I wasn't just going to mash sweet potatoes. This salivation-inducing blast of flavour took the lowly sweet potato to new heights. And the pièce de résistance - port-braised mushrooms. There you have it - brilliant burgundy, flashy orange, and the golden brown tones of pastry.

Worth all of the five BLASTED hours involved in its creation. The lovely thing is that you can make it advance. And I suggest you do, because this is not quick, though it is relatively straightforward. We'll work bottom up for the recipe.

Puréed Sweet Potato Infusion
Serves six as a small side dish, four as a hefty one
Vegan, suitable for non-vegans

3 large sweet potatoes
1 HEAD garlic (not clove, HEAD)
1 teaspoon white truffle oil (can be found in fancy-schmancy stores)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Wash sweet potatoes and pierce with a knife/fork. Don't do like I did and put them straight into the oven. Apparently, all that goodness that makes sweet potatoes so sweet will bubble out and caramelize to the bottom of your oven. Put them on a pan. ;) Roast until tender (probably about 1 hour, but give 'em a poke every 15 minutes, starting at 45 minutes). You want them to be very tender.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2. At the same time, take the head of garlic, and cut the top off, so you can see most of the individual cloves. Place on tin foil, and drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Wrap loosely in the foil and place in the oven with the sweet potatoes. After 40 minutes, it should be soft and golden. Remove from oven.
3. Once the sweet potatoes are cool, peel them and place them in a 3 L casserole dish. Drop in all the roasted garlic (you should be able to squeeze each clove out of its skin. I know this seems like garlic overload, but roasted garlic is very mild. I doubt any vampires will drop in, but it's not crazy. Just trust me. Add the truffle oil.
4. Mash away (I used first a potato masher and then my hand mixer. I would KILL for a stand mixer. Kitchen Aid, how I long for your hands-free power....). I added about 1/3 cup of water to mine to make it a more spreadable consistency. This is a personal change. You can make this in advance and just pop in the oven whenever. It would be a great base for a lot of meals.

Roasted Vegetable Phyllo Pockets with Braised Lentils
Serves 8
Vegan, Suitable for Non-vegans

Braised Lentils
1 cups green lentils (brown will also work - red won't work for this recipe)
2-3 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 t italian seasoning
1 T balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper

1. Bring vegetable stock to a boil. Add lentils, bay leaf, italian seasoning, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Boil for about 30 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain excess liquid. Set aside.

Roasted Veggies
2 small italian eggplants, chopped in 1 inch cubes (or one large eggplant) I didn't peel this, you could if you wanted to.
2 large red peppers, diced
2 large green peppers, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 t basil
salt, pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a 9x13 glass dish. Add veggies. Take the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper and combine them. Drizzle this over your veggies, and stir to combine.
2. Roast for about 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Roasted Veggies

Phyllo Pastry Packets with lentils and roasted vegetables
If you're not eating vegan, feta would also be a fabulous addition.

1 recipe roasted veggies
1 recipe braised lentils
1/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves.
1 package phyllo pastry (you'll need about 12 sheets, which is less than a package)
olive oil
fleur de sel, paprika (preferably smoked!)

1. Combine veggies with lentils and basil.
2. On a clean surface (I like using parchment paper), lay out 1 sheet of phyllo pastry, keeping the remainder covered with a damp towel. Lightly brush the layer with olive oil (or use a Misto). Add another sheet, lightly brush with oil again. Add a third sheet, and brush with oil.
3. Use a pizza cutter to cut sheets into two sections (cut the short way).
4. Take about 3/4 cup of filling and place near the bottom of the short end of the pastry.
Roasted veggie lentil filling
5. Fold pastry over at the side, and then carefully roll it up, using a bit of oil to seal at the seam. Place rolled phyllo packet on a prepared baking sheet (all hail the SILPAT!). Brush top with olive oil. Repeat with other half.
6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you run out of filling (it should make about 8 packets).
Phyllo veggie pockets
7. To bake (and you can make these ahead), preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle some fleur de sel and paprika on top. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Port-Braised Mushrooms
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 small shallots, minced
1.5 cups port
2 T balsamic vinegar
1.5 T cornstarch, 1/3 cup water

1. In a skillet, heat a bit of olive oil. Add mushrooms and sauté until some water is starting to be released from them. Add the shallot.
2. Once mushrooms are mostly tender, add port and balsamic vinegar and boil for about 5 minutes.
3. Combine cornstarch with water, and then carefully mix this into the boiling port mixture. It should thicken very quickly.
4. Serve over phyllo packets.

And this was the final product:
Main Course

Yum. Stay tuned for some chocolate tofu decadence.


Anonymous said...

Is phyllo vegan? My local varieties all contain butter.


leslie @ definitely not martha said...

The one I used, President's Choice, was vegan. :) (copy and paste to see). Unless dextrose or potassium sorbate aren't vegan, it's safe. This one is made with canola oil.

BubblyBunny said...

Oh wow! You've really outdone yourself this time. The recipes look fantastic! I would love to try that sweet potato stuff and I think my hubby would like your lentil dish! We'll definitely have to try it sometime! :)


Anonymous said...

As always, the food looks delicious!!!! But, 5 HOURS in the kitchen...I'd go insane. I guess that's why my cooking tastes like well, um, crap! and yours probably tastes heavenly.

Thanks again for putting such a great effort into keeping your blog up to date and full of interesting writing and pictures. I don't always comment, but I check daily for any new updates. :)

Unknown said...

Wow! Rather than post different comments on each of the last few posts, I'll just post one here. All of your dishes look amazing. I'll be saving all three of them to make sometime soon. I'm especially excited to try the torte!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

This sounds yummy! The sweet potato thing I must try. I'm based in France, any ideas where I can get vegan phyllo pastry? I think it's the same as Filo pastry? Am going to list you as a blog to watch on my recipe blog for those with food allergies. Hope that's ok! thank-you and I'll be back!

Anonymous said...

PC Filo pastry contains l-cysteine from an unspecified source. Could very well be animal. :(.
I have been meaning to contact them to see if they can confirm the source.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Leslie, I am stalking this recipe. With some new food restrictions, I was all panicked about what might be veggie and good... but this looks like an excellent start! Thank youuuuuuuuuu...

Dazy said...

I'm making this tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

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