Recipe: How to make the perfect vegetarian Wellington

Hey veggie lovers, don’t feel left out this festive season because chef Mokgadi Itsweng has just the right veggie showstopper for you

Traditionally made with beef, chef Mokgadi Itsweng's vegan version of a Wellington uses bold colours, wonderful textures and of course delicious flavours. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Traditionally made with beef, chef Mokgadi Itsweng's vegan version of a Wellington uses bold colours, wonderful textures and of course delicious flavours. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Our dear vegetarians deserve a wholesome festive season with equally tasty meals this summer. If you are looking for a vegetarian showstopper for your festive spread, chef and food activist Mokgadi Itsweng may just have the perfect trick up her sleeve.

Now, we’ve heard of a beef Wellington – a succulent, tender fillet of beef, covered in nutty mushrooms and tightly tucked in a buttery and flaky pastry. Yummy. But who would’ve imagined this classic could be equally delicious when you swop meat for some butternut?

Chef Mokgadi Itsweng shares her vegetarian take on the classic with a butternut Wellington.

Itsweng’s Wellington ticks all the right boxes and can be prepared up to a day in advance. It can also be veganised with a little bit of elbow grease.

ALSO READ: Going green: This chef makes veggies look fly

Butternut Wellington

Serves: 4 - 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut (1 kg and over), halved and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
  • 250g mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 300g morogo, washed and chopped
  • ¼ cup (60ml) dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • Seasoning herb salt to taste
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) breadcrumbs, divided into 2 equal portions
  • 1 sheet hot water crust pastry
  • ¼ cup (60ml) herb pesto
  • Milk, for the glaze

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  1. On a chopping board, cut off the hollow part of the butternut (chop this part up and freeze for later use) and leave the 2 solid parts of the butternut. Place the butternut on a roasting tray, drizzle 1 tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil over the butternut halves and roast uncovered for 20 minutes until tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the rest of the oil and fry the onion, garlic and herbs together for 5 minutes on medium heat, then add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until nicely browned.
  3. Add the chopped morogo and dried cranberries, and cook closed for 10 minutes. Season with herb salt. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then mix in one portion of the breadcrumbs.
  4. To assemble, roll out the pastry on a floured surface, then sprinkle half of the leftover breadcrumbs in the middle of the pastry (an area where the butternuts will go; this will ensure that the bottom pastry stays crispy).
  5. Spoon the cooled mushroom and morogo mix over the breadcrumbs, then place the roasted butternuts (side by side so the cut ends touch each other, creating one long butternut) over the mushroom mixture. Brush some herb pesto over the butternut and sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs over the top of the butternut.
  6. Once the filling is in place, fold the 2 side pastry flaps to cover the butternut, joining them together at the top. You can use your fingers to pinch together a pattern to enclose the butternut and keep the filling inside. Make incisions along the top of the pastry, allowing the Wellington to release steam during cooking. Pinch the edges to seal the butternut and filling inside the pastry. Brush some milk over the pastry to create a glaze.
  7. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.
  8. Serve with your favourite sides and salads.
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