Roasted vegetable en croute (gluten-free)
In many ways I have a wonderful relationship with food and cooking. It knows I like it, I know I like it, I’m confident to make things up and experiment with it. Except pastry. Pastry: I fear, and pastry knows this fact; pastry often misbehaves under my hands. So the theme for a joint gluten-free experimentation extravaganza between Barbara, owner of GuFf, and my own blog naturally featured…pastry. Puff pastry. Gluten-free puff pastry. Umm.
Well, if you’re going to dive off a cliff, it might as well be a REALLY high one.
Skilled as she is in the art of handling all sorts of gluten-free ingredients and recipes, even Barbara was afraid. She knew much better than I the perils of gluten-free pastry (which apparently doesn’t do much apart from break into small beige lumps). Normal puff-pastry is a monstrous task by itself; the dough requires folding 6 times, refrigerating inbetween for up to one hour. However the result is unique, a pastry formed of 729 layers of pastry and 728 of butter (millefeuille is so named as two puff pastry layers ensconce the dessert’s cream – thus creating over a thousand layers. Now lets think about that with each bite). In the oven, the butter between each layer melts and forms an air pocket – which rises and gives the pastry its eponymous fluffy, flaky texture.
But…going back to the gluten-free part, and the nature of rolling and folding something that by nature does neither…
It was very challenging, but very fun. We luckily came upon a recipe which cut the cooking time from 9 hrs to approximately 3 – and were heartened by the instructions which frequently included the term “patch and repair where necessary”. There was a lot of both, and the experiment certainly required two pairs of hands. For the recipe, I won’t write it out as it was explained so well the first time. See the photos, and for the instructions go here at the art of gluten-free baking
Once made, we come to the recipe – a dish en croute. As the name suggests, the filling is enveloped in puff pastry and baked, making a rich and pretty dinner party dish. Originally I learned this with salmon; however I have to say the sweet bite of roasted vegetables and salty tang of goats cheese make I think, a better partner for the richness of the pastry. Serve with something light like salad.
- 1 recipe gluten-free puff pastry, or one pack JusRoll ready made puff pastry (for regular en croute) – about 450-500g
- 1 each: red pepper, yellow pepper, sweet potato, red onion, courgette
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 carrots
- 2 handfuls young spinach leaves
- 1 handful pine nuts
- 2 tbsp red pesto (or regular, if you prefer)
- 150-200g goat’s cheese
- egg / milk wash, for the pastry
Chop all the vegetables roughly, scatter over one or two baking tins, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven (gas 7ish) for around 40 mins, turning inbetween, till the vegetables are soft. When done, take out, combine in a bowl and mix with the pesto and pine nuts. Wait till they’ve cooled a bit, then mix in the spinach leaves and goat’s cheese (you don’t want the last two to cook too much and wilt/melt yet)
When the vegetables are ready, prepare the en croute. Take the puff pastry and roll out into a rectangle of approximately 11″ by 14″ (a bit bigger than A4 paper) and 1/4″ tall. Do this, or at least the final rolling, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, so you don’t have to try to pick the dough up. Now place the vegetables down the centre, leaving around 4″ each side, in the shape of a more narrow rectangle.
For the plaiting, score the pastry diagonally into ¾” strips either side of the filling. Start from one end, and first folding in the end piece (like wrapping a present) fold one piece of pastry after another into the centre, creating a plait. Brush the pastry with a little egg/milk wash after each turn to help it stick. (NB, Barbara is adamant that any sort of wash stops GF puff pastry puffing. I ignored her when we made this but would advise following her warning yourself, at least to see what happens; she may well be correct). What you should finish with is a pretty plaited rectangle, with the filling safely sealed inside. For wheaty people, brush with more egg wash (which will make it nice and shiny). Cook in the oven for 30-40 mins, gas 6-7, until the pastry is well risen and golden on top.