Spiced Vegetable, Cashew & Goats’ Cheese Strudel

In order to write this, I levered myself up out of the nest I’d made in the corner of the sofa, set out the necessary writing tools on the dining room table, and put on my largest, fluffiest dressing gown. The cat is sitting on the chair next to me – I’m sure he’ll be a great help – and my gallbladder lies on the table beside a lined notepad and ballpoint pen.

Not my actual gallbladder, obviously. That wouldn’t be sanitary. Also, they didn’t offer it to me after the surgery, so now I have a whole bunch of holes in my stomach and nothing to show for it but a boatload of prescription pain medication.

The medication is, arguably, more useful and less gross than retaining one’s gallbladder in a jar. Although one of my cousins suggested selling it on eBay as Chinese medicine – a plan which is now scuppered.

Anyway. This strudel has become one of our favourite meals of late; we’ve had it twice in as many weeks, and it yields a decent amount of delicious leftovers. While I’m not exactly banned from the kitchen, it will be pretty much impossible for me to lift my Le Creuset pans for the foreseeable future, so less strenuous recipes are the way forward.

This one is incredible easy. If you play your cards right, you can use one baking tray for the entire process, and the only bit that takes some time is slicing up your vegetables; something we’re all happy to suffer through if it means tasty noms.

I wonder how old I’ll be before ‘tasty noms’ is no longer in my vocabulary. I hope I’ll be saying it when I’m 80, in between yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

Anyway, this veggie mix is especially good because it makes enough for two strudels! That means you can keep the remainder in the fridge for another strudel later, or double up on the rest of the ingredients and make enough to feed a family. You can also use the veggie mix for something else, if you fancy; I very nearly made a biryani with mine, and I’m sure that will end up on the menu at some point.

(Just as an aside, black onion seeds are my new obsession. Would it be weird just to eat them out of the jar? Probably. Be right back.)

Spiced Vegetable, Cashew & Goats’ Cheese Strudel (Vegetarian, Gluten-free)

Serves 3-4 (double up pastry & cheese for 6-8 servings)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Equipment

Large, shallow baking/roasting tray; greaseproof paper (although this usually comes with your pastry, so you might not need it); medium mixing bowl; vegetable peeler; pastry brush; cutting board and knife, as is customary in such scenarios.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (use GF if required)
  • 125g crumbly goats’ cheese
  • Mixed veg for roasting (I used 1 medium carrot, 1 parsnip, 1 leek, 1/2 courgette, 1 sweet potato — you can use whatever you have)
  • 80g raw cashews
  • 2 tsp black onion seeds (plus a little more for the top)
  • 1 tsp medium or mild curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • A little beaten egg or milk for glazing
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Pop your oven on at 200C and get ready to prep your vegetables. Peel all the veg that needs it (parsnip, carrot and sweet potato), and chop them into small chunks; you want them to roast fairly quickly and evenly, so make sure they’re similar sizes. Peel off the outer layer of the leek and slice it down the centre, keeping the root intact so you can wash out any grit or dirt. Slice into small pieces and get rid of the root. Halve the courgette lengthways then cut it into half-moons. Put all the veg into your mixing bowl, then add the spices, black onion seeds, herbs, and oil, along with a little salt and pepper. Mix well (with your hands, or a wooden spoon if you MUST) then transfer to the roasting tray. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the more robust root vegetables are getting nice and soft. Remove from the oven and put back in your bowl to cool slightly.
  2. Chuck the cashews into the same tin and pop it back in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they’re starting to get golden. Throw them in with the veg and mix everything up. Now to the pastry.
  3. Basically, you want it too look like the image below. Gently score the pastry into three equal sections lengthways; the inner third will be where your filling goes, while the outer thirds will form the pretty criss-cross pattern on the top of your strudel. It’s deceptively easy. Start by cutting diagonal strips up the outside thirds, mirrored on each side so you’ve got roughly the same number of strips on both sides. You then want to cut away 1-2 strips at each end of the strudel, as pictured, so that you end up with the middle third being longer than the outside thirds. Once your pastry looks about right, place your filling into the middle third, leaving the ends clear, as shown. Crumble over the goats cheese and get to work on your cross pattern. Fold up those ends, then cross over your pastry sections, alternating from one to the other, so you end up with the top all covered.
    20200126_1444055281629947270295350.jpg
  4. Using a little beaten egg or some milk, brush the pastry all over, then scatter a generous amount of black onion seeds over the top. Transfer the strudel to your baking tray and put into the oven one final time. It should take 30 minutes to cook, but it’s done when the pastry’s crisp and golden, and you can see some of the cheese attempting to escape the cracks. Once it’s cooked, you can cut it into three or four pieces and consume with gusto. The leftovers can be eaten hot or cold for lunch the next day. What’s not to like?!

I can’t recommend this recipe enough. It’s easy, shovels loads of vegetable goodness into your body, and contains, most importantly, both cheese and pastry. If you wanted to make this vegan, you could just omit the cheese and use a milk alternative as the glaze, as most shop-bought puff pastry is vegan anyway. So versatile!

Anyway, I ate too much ice cream at lunchtime because I was feeling sorry for myself and had no adult supervision, so I think I might need a nap now. Night, all.

H x

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