Sunday, December 8, 2013

Savoury Lentil Vol-au-Vent with Ginger Applesauce

These are officially my new favourite appetizer for the holiday season.  Or, make the vol-au-vent bigger and you have your entrée.  The lentil filling is amazing, so don't worry if you have leftovers.  I use it as a sandwich filling.

- 1 lb (i.e. one recipe) puff pastry

Savoury Lentil Filling
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely diced celery
- 1/4 cup finely grated carrot
- 1/2 cup finely diced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup finely diced cooking apple
- 3/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground sage
- large pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock, divided
- salt and pepper to taste

Ginger Applesauce
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1.5 cups small diced cooking apple
- 1 tbsp sugar

Makes 8-12, depending on size.
These aren't hard to make, but they take a little skill.  The key here is to roll out the pastry evenly, and to keep the size of your cutter in mind so you don't waste and pastry (i.e. if your pastry is 3.5 times the width of your cutter, you will waste pastry).  You can't re-roll the scraps like you can with with pie pastry.

Don't cut out too much of the middle or the sides will sag, 
as you see here.  Still tasty, though!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
1. Roll the chilled dough out 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out as many shapes as you can (you want an even number).  Cut out the centres from half of them.  These will be the tops.
These are the cutters I used

2. Place the bottoms on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Lightly brush with soy milk. making sure you get all the way to the edges. Prick the bottoms several times with a fork.
3. Place the tops on the bottoms and gently press them down so that the two layers adhere.  Gently brush the tops with soy milk.

4. Bake for 20 mins, then reduce heat to 350, rotate pan, and bake for 8-10 mins, until golden all over.
5. Remove pastry to a cooling rack.  While pastry is still warm, scrape the pastry out of the middle with a fork.  Let fully cool before filling.

(So, what do you do with the pastry scraps?  I bake them for 20 mins at 425, then toss in cinnamon and sugar while still warm.)

Savoury Lentil Filling
1. Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add lentils, reduce heat to med-hi, and boil for 5-6 mins, until lentils soften and begin to expand.  They will be whitish around the edges but still have red centres.   Drain and set aside.
2. While lentils are cooking, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Gently sauté shallots, garlic, and celery for 5-7 mins, until golden and translucent.
3. Add carrot, mushrooms, and apple.  Cook for about 5 mins, until mushrooms begin to release their water and the apples begin to soften.
4. Add fennel, sage, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook for 1 min, until fragrant.
5. Add soy sauce and 1/4 of the vegetable stock.  Cook until liquid reduces down.
6. Add drained lentils, and the remaining 1/2 cup of stock.  Mix well, then cook, uncovered, for about 10 mins, until liquid has almost all reduced, apples are cooked, and lentil are soft but not cooked into a paste.  Stir regularly. Season to taste.  Add more veg stock if you need more cooking time.  Don't dry out the mixture too much.
7. Fill vol-au-vent while mixture is still warm.  Top with ginger applesauce and serve.

Ginger Applesauce
1. Melt margarine over medium heat and sauté ginger for 1 min.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to bubbling.  Reduce heat to med-lo, cover, and cook for about 10 mins, stirring regularly, until apples are soft but still hold their shape.