Vegan squash Wellington

Vegan squash Wellington

vegan squash wellington cut

As promised, today I’m bringing in the big guns – a Xmas centrepiece of butternut squash Wellington that I’m hoping you will be inspired to try out next week. The concept isn’t dissimilar to my last year’s Beet Wellington, but it features a different star vegetable and a completely different filling.

Roasted butternut squash is one of my favourite vegetables so I’ve decided it’s high time to incorporate it into a festive menu, especially that it’s elongated shape lends itself quite well to being wrapped up in pastry. Its sweet flavour sings against the sour notes of balsamic glaze and a simple vegan stuffing made up of crunchy pecans, sour cranberries, salty olives, sage, rosemary and spinach.

While this centrepiece may look impressive, it is really quite straightforward to make. We are bringing it with us to Duncan’s counsin’s Xmas dinner next week and I bet there will be meat eaters making eyes at it as it looks a picture. It’s the beauty of golden brown puff pastry, isn’t it?

This time I went for a braid as not only does it look pretty, but it also does a better job of holding a slightly unevenly shaped filling tightly in place. Additionally, braiding gives you plenty of natural gaps in the pastry, which means the steam created during cooking has somewhere to escape and you don’t have to worry about your pastry bursting or tearing as the Wellington bakes.

Forgive me the lack of process photos, but I’m still struggling a bit with adjusting to a completely different light. Plus the lack of a decent tripod (which is part of our now very delayed shipment from Greece) or my usual props slow me down even more and that’s not a magical combination when the black clouds are never too far away. Changes, eh? Who said it was going to be easy, Ania!?

vegan squash wellington prep

vegan squash wellington side

vegan squash wellington top down

vegan squash wellington cross section

serves
6
PREP
45 min
COOKING
50 min
serves
6
PREPARATION
45 min
COOKING
50 min
INGREDIENTS
  • 1.35 kg / 3 lb butternut squash*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 15 g / 0.5 oz fresh sage, chopped finely
  • 1 spring of rosemary (optional), leaves chopped finely
  • 300 g / 0.65 lb (weight assumes leaves only) spinach or curly kale
  • ¼ cup dried unsweetened cranberries, chopped finely
  • 15 black Kalamata olives
  • 75 g / ¾ cup pecan or walnut halves, divided
  • ½ tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper, adjust to taste
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes, to taste
  • 65 g / ¾ cup breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 sheet vegan puff pastry**
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk, to glaze

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

  • 120 ml / 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 80 g / 2/3 cup sugar (I used raw cane)

METHOD
FILLINGS

  1. Heat up the oven to 200° C / 390° F (180° C / 355° F fan) and line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper.
  2. Cut off the bulbous part of your butternut squash (save it for another use), peel the solid part and cut it in half lengthwise. Brush the two halves with a bit of olive oil on both sides and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25-35 minutes (depending on size), until almost cooked all the way through. Let the two halves cool down completely.
  3. Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add finely diced onion and fry on a low-medium heat until gently caramelised. Add chopped garlic, stir-fry until softened and fragrant.
  4. Add chopped herbs and stir-fry for about another minute.
  5. Add in chopped spinach, cranberries, olives and 50 g / ½ cup of pecans and, if the pan is too dry, perhaps a splash of water (or veggie stock or vegan wine). Allow the spinach to wilt into the pan. Season with salt, pepper and chilli.
  6. Once the spinach has wilted, allow all the water to cook out completely. Cool the mixture off. Once cool, stir 45 g / ½ cup breadcrumbs through the mixture so that they soak up any excess moisture.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

  1. Place balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small pot. Bring it to the boil gently and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes or so until the liquid reduces by about ½ and becomes thick. Beware that it will become even thicker once it cools so don’t let it reduce too much. If you do, add a splash of water to bring it back.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Place the sheet of pastry in front of you so that the longer edge runs parallel to the work bench (I used a Jus Roll puff pastry sheet, which measures 23 cm / 9″ by 35 cm / 13.5″ cm). You will place your filling in the horizontal middle of the pastry. The width of the area designated for the filling is determined by the width of your butternut squash (mine was 8 cm / 3″ wide).
  2. Sprinkle the remainder of the breadcrumbs over the area where the filling will be placed making sure you leave about 2 cm / 1 ” margin at the top an bottom. The breadcrumbs will prevent the bottom of the Wellington from getting soggy.
  3. Next pile the spinach filling over the breadcrumbs, into a well compressed, rectangular parcel (you may end up with some leftover mixture).
  4. Place the two halves of the butternut squash on top of the spinach parcel so that the cut ends touch each other in the centre. Brush the cut ends with a bit of balsamic glaze to ‘glue’ the two pieces together.
  5. Glaze the top and sides of the butternut squash halves with balsamic glaze and then sprinkle them with the rest of the chopped pecans – the nuts will create a barrier stopping the pastry from getting soggy.
  6. Once the filling is in place, make a series of 2.5 cm / 1″ incisions in the pastry on both sides of the stack to be able to create a braid at the top. You can make the incisions perpendicular to the log (like I did in mine) or at a slight diagonal angle, it’s up to you.
  7. Fold both end (top and bottom) flaps up, like you would wrap a present and then braid the strips over the top of the filling, alternating sides. If you end up with big gaps at either of the ends, patch them up with leftover pastry. This method works great here as it prevents slack in the pastry and allows for tight wrapping despite the slightly irregular shape of the filling. The tiny gaps in between the braids allow the steam to escape and prevent the Wellington from bursting while in the oven.
  8. Brush the pastry with soy milk.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the pastry is beautifully puffed and golden.
  10. Serve with your favourite side dishes (like hasselback potatoes, for example) drizzled with the balsamic reduction you made earlier.

NOTES
 *When choosing a butternut squash, bear in mind the dimensions of your pastry sheet. Mine was 23 cm / 9″ wide so I needed a filling that does not exceed 19 cm / 7.5 ” so that there is sufficient pastry margin left at both ends. You can either use the solid part (i.e. cut off bulbous part where the seeds are) of a very long squash or two solid halves of a short one ‘glued’ together by balsamic vinegar (although that’s not necessary) like I did here.

**I know that Jus-Rol and Pepperidge Farm are definitely vegan and that Dufour definitely isn’t. If in doubt, check the packet for more details.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
468
23%
sugars
23 g
26%
fats
26 g
37%
saturates
3 g
16%
proteins
7 g
14%
carbs
57 g
22%
*per serving
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5.0
11 reviews, 22 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Rebecca:
I made this and it was even better than I was expecting! I ended up with a LOT of leftover kale filling, and leftover squash (I think my puff pastry sheet was smaller than the one used in the recipe) so I might even be able to make a second batch. I needed a vegan centerpiece recipe that didn't include anything seitan-textured, didn't include mushrooms, and could be made with reduced onion (due to other people's taste preferences) and this recipe hit all those points. The only thing I might change in the future is to slightly reduce the amount of sage. Thank you for this recipe! It ended up looking beautiful - almost identical to your pictures!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Rebecca! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed this Wellington and that other diners did too despite their intolerances / preferences. And many thanks for coming back to review – it helps my work be seen so I really appreciate it. x Ania
Rebecca:
I hope to make this recipe. What type of chili should I use? Is it chili powder, or like a jalapeño, or something else? Thanks so much.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Rebecca,Any dried chilli you like is fine. I typically use mild (Turkish) chilli flakes - pul biber. Hope this helps! x Ania PS: Oh I have published a new squash Wellington recipe since in case you haven't seen it - recipe here.
Izzy:
this is my go to meal for when i have friends over, easy to do, tastes amazing and also looks quite impressive too! ;) Thanks for sharing a great recipe!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Izzy, I'm delighted to hear that you enjoy this recipe so much! x Ania
Izzy Davis:
This is my go to for a sunday dinner now ! Such a great recipe, this was our New years evening dinner, perfect with roasted veggies, and had enough for the next day too!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Izzy! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much that you have it on a regular basis now. x Ania
Joanne:
Hi can I freeze the pumpkin wellington ----- well I mean I can prepare it wrap it in the pastry and freeze when needed ??
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Joanne,Yes, in theory, but I have not tried doing that so cannot tell you how it compares to a freshly assembled one. Ania
Leah:
I made this for Thanksgiving and it came out really delicious! I made the other Wellington recipe last Christmas, so Ania’s recipes are becoming a holiday favorite. It’s a great holiday centerpiece and non vegans will also enjoy it. Everyone was very impressed by the appearance with the braided puff pastry, too. I followed the recipe almost exactly except I did not make the balsamic reduction because I already had a thick balsamic straight from the bottle. I also added 2 tablespoons of the balsamic directly to the spinach filling after it was done cooking along with 1 tablespoon of tamari for a bit more umami flavor. When assembling the Wellington, my puff pastry (Pepperidge farm) was small so I just pieced together 1 full sheet with another half sheet and rolled the whole thing out a little bit to make it big enough. Then followed the weaving instructions. Overall it was easy to make with a big impact. I have made several of Ania’s recipes and they all have been excellent so I highly recommend!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks for your kind words, Leah! I'm delighted to hear that you enjoyed it! Sorry about the pastry being too small (unfortunately I'm not able to get this brand in the UK so it's hard for me to predict the size of the sheet), but good thinking on your feet. I'm glad it all worked out well! Ania
Sharon Hoey:
Thank you for this recipe . My non vegan mother in law really enjoyed it too! This was a practice for Christmas! We loved it!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Sharon, I'm delighted to hear that it went down so well with you and especially your mum-in-law ;) Ania
Heidi:
Hello. What can I sub for the olives?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Heidi! How about balsamic onions like in this recipe? I hope this helps! Ania
Debbie:
Would this be suitable to make and cook ahead and then freeze for he big day?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Debbie,I'm not sure as I haven't tried. One concern is that the pastry might get soggy. Ania
Sasha Murray:
This recipe looks great and I can't wait to try it! Can you advise a replacement for the balsamic reduction? I want to make this for my Grandmother but she is diabetic, so this would be too much sugar for her. Thank you :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Sasha!I am excited to hear that you are planning to make it for your grandma. I am thinking some kind of sauce with a hint of cranberry would be nice - it will contrast nicely with the sweetness of the squash or maybe a miso-flavoured or red wine gravy? Hope that helps! Ania
Emily T:
This was my first attempt at a vegan Christmas Day meal and was an absolute hit with my family, even my non-vegan foodie husband. Thank you so much! Really straight forward to make and packed full of flavour 🙌🏻
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Emily. I'm really chuffed to hear that it went down so well, even with meat eaters! Ania
Sylvia:
Great recipe. Easy to make and delicious and very festive.
Sylvia:
Thanks for this fantastic recipe. It was delicious and very easy to make.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Sylvia! That's so lovely to hear! Ania
Ariane Fleury:
Gorgeous and delicious! A huge success on my Christmas table :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Ariane! That's so lovely to hear!! :) Ania
Hannah:
Would it be possible to make this but not bake till the next day? Or would you recommend making and baking on the same day and then just re-heating?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Hannah,I would recommend making the stuffing (spinach filling, chopped nuts, breadcrumbs, roasting squash and making balsamic glaze) in advance but not wrapping everything in pastry until you are ready to bake as otherwise your Wellington may end up soggy. You could bake it a day in advance if that's easier but it will be the tastiest straight after it's been baked, of course! Hope that helps! Ania
Margarita:
If you were to make either of your Wellington’s for dinner for the first time, which would you prefer - the squash or beet version? My family enjoys both veg so not sure which to pick??
    Ania
    Ania:
    I like them both too, but I would maybe go for squash version as it's a bit less fiddly to wrap in pastry - the shape of the squash is more suited to stacking and wrapping with pastry :) Hope that helps! Ania
Sophie Tramel:
That Wellington is so beautiful!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Sophie! Ania
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