Garlic mushrooms, seasoned spinach and melted blue cheese fillings, wrapped in thin, flaky layers of spelt pastry – this spectacular mushroom Wellington makes a great vegetarian main course (easily made vegan) for Christmas or roast dinners.
There is absolutely no possibility that any meat eaters on your table will not be looking over enviously when you slice this beautiful mushroom Wellington open. It’s up to you whether you allow them a slice.
This pie is wrapped in a fabulously healthy pastry – for me, genuinely more enjoyable to eat than the traditional white flour, butter-rich pastry that used to be my go-to. If you follow this blog regularly, you will have seen this pastry in action before – wrapped around my Vegetable pie with ricotta among other recipes. It’s very flexible and forgiving to work with – the fact it is made from 100% whole grain spelt flour and enriched with avocado instead of butter or shortening, is merely the healthy icing on the cake.
There are three tasty elements to the filling for this pie. Mushrooms are, unsurprisingly, making a star appearance (I LOVE THEM!!). Seasoned with garlic and herbs, they are bound with ground flaxseed (you can use an egg if you don’t have that on hand), oats and walnuts. They rest on a bed of wilted, seasoned spinach, thoroughly squeezed of any soggifying moisture, all topped with a generous amount of Stilton.
A note for vegans. I am a weak cheese fanatic, but the vegetable fillings in this pie truly are delicious enough to be eaten without the Stilton. Apart from the pastry glaze, which you can swap with protein-rich soy milk, the rest of the dish is completely vegan – pastry and all.
And a note for vegetarians. If you are unfamiliar with the delights of Stilton, you’re in for a treat. I am emphatically not a British nationalist in any way shape or form, but Stilton is one of the few food products which Britain produces that I genuinely think is the best in the world. The best blue cheese in the world.
Unfortunately, true ‘Stilton’ must be pasteurised. A food safety scare in the 1990s (which was eventually proved false) coincided with Stilton’s application for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status within the European Union, which effectively fixed production standards at the time of designation. So it is illegal to produce an unpasteurised cheese called Stilton, even if it’s made in the correct geographical location, using traditional methods. Sad times.
I am a passionate believer in the superior qualities of unpasteurised cheese, and although Stilton is scrumptious even when pasteurised, it could be so much better with the living, breathing nuances that unpasteurised milk would bring to the experience.
Luckily, there is another option. Stichelton is a cheese produced in the fashion Stilton would have been in the distant, but delicious, past – with unpasteurised milk and artisan methods. Unluckily, getting your hands on some will be a challenge. Even in London it involves a trip up to Borough market to Neal’s Yard Dairy. A trip I will definitely be making this year. But for those of you who are unable to secure a slice of history, regular Stilton will still be a taste sensation and if you’re unable to secure that either, any blue cheese will do. In fact, any cheese will probably do.
Although this dish will involve you making your own pastry – and your own filo/phyllo pastry at that – I promise it is simple to make, easy to work with and it will look and taste great. Although this pie is marginally better when baked and served immediately, I have also baked it and reheated it the next day, so that is definitely an option for the busy Christmas period.
Although I haven’t quite decided what I’m cooking for Christmas yet, there is a very, very, strong possibility that this will be it. It’s delish!
Mushroom Wellington with spinach
Avocado-Spelt Filo Pastry
- 250 g whole grain spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 90 g avocado flesh about 1 medium, mashed
- 90 g very hot water
Mushroom, Spinach & Stilton Fillings
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon water
- 400 g brown mushrooms or similar halved or quartered
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 100 ml drinkable dry white wine
- 100 ml water
- 1 lightly heaped tablespoon vegetable stock paste
- 20 g rolled oats
- 25 g walnuts
- few handfuls fresh herbs roughly chopped
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 400 g frozen spinach thawed
- 1/2 lemon juice only
- 150 g Stilton omit for vegan
- 100 g extra virgin olive oil
- 2 heaped tablespoons Greek yoghurt substitute for vegan
- 1 egg substitute for vegan
- sesame seeds to garnish
- dried oregano to garnish
Add the flour and salt to a food processor and mix to combine. Add the avocado and blend in. Add the hot water a little at a time and blend or combine with your hands. I used 90g of water when I made this pastry, but you may need a little more or a little less, depending on your flour. Knead for about 5 minutes in the machine. When ready, the dough should be moist and pliable, but not too sticky. Thoroughly scrape out the food processor, wrap the dough in plastic and rest on the work surface while you prepare the fillings.
Mix the flaxseed and water together in a small tub and rest in the fridge.
In a large saucepan, stew the garlic, wine, water and stock paste over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, adding a dash of water if it starts to dry out.
While the garlic is stewing, dry sauté the mushrooms over high heat in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan until well browned - you will most likely need to do this in batches. When the garlic and mushrooms are ready, add the mushrooms to the garlic and stir to combine. Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes, adding a splash of water if needed to keep everything lubricated.
After you add the mushrooms to the garlic, start cook the red onion in the pan you were sautéing the mushrooms in, until softened and translucent, about 15 minutes.
Grind the rolled oats and walnuts to a fine powder with a high-powered blender or spice grinder. When the mushrooms are ready, stir in onions, the oat-nut mixture and the flax egg that has been resting in the fridge. Stir very thoroughly to combine. Transfer half the mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse to a chunky texture. Return the chopped mixture to the rest of the mushrooms and stir again to combine. Set aside.
Put half the spinach in the centre of a clean tea towel and twist it around the spinach to remove as much water as possible. Repeat with the other half of the spinach. Transfer to a bowl and thoroughly season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Set aside.
Roughly chop the Stilton, if using, and set aside.
Cut the dough into eight even pieces. Working one piece at a time, roughly shape a piece of dough to fit the width of your pasta machine. Run a piece of dough through the machine, starting on setting 1 and working your way up, until the dough is as thin as you can make it. I got up to setting 8 on my machine. You will need to add a little sprinkle of flour to the dough sheets occasionally to stop them sticking. Sticking is very, very frustrating, so definitely avoid that!
Preheat the oven to 200c. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. When one sheet is complete, lay lengths of it on the baking paper, trimming as necessary to form a rough 30cm x 40cm rectangle - you want to create one even layer, as pictured. Drizzle over a touch of olive oil - no need to go nuts - and brush or rub over the pastry so it is mostly covered. Repeat with three more layers - one piece of dough makes roughly one layer.
Start layering the fillings, starting with the spinach, then the mushrooms, then the Stilton, if using. You want the fillings to have some height and will cover roughly 12cm wide x 30cm long.
At each end, cut two diagonal slits through the uncovered pastry from the corners of the filling to the corner of the pastry, so you have a triangular flap at each end. Fold these triangular flaps up over each end and press the pointed corners down the sides. Fold the remaining side pieces of pastry up round the filling. You should now only have a small strip of exposed filling along the top.
Roll out another piece of pastry and trim it to cover just that small strip. Drizzle with a touch of oil and repeat with another two strips. Brush a little oil over the entire surface. Roll out one final piece of pastry, large enough to cover the whole thing if possible, and lay over the entire length and sides of the Wellington.
Beat together the yoghurt and egg (substitute soy milk for vegan) and brush over the pastry. Bake for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, brush again with the glaze, sprinkle with sesame seeds and oregano, and return to the oven to bake for a further 15 minutes or so, until the whole surface is evenly browned.
Rest for about 5 minutes, then cut into pieces with a serrated knife and serve.
To make this dish vegan, omit the blue cheese and substitute soy milk for the Greek yoghurt and egg glaze.