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Guest Recipe: Jordan's Vegetarian Blue Cheese & Butternut Squash Christmas Wreath

Guest Recipe: Jordan's Vegetarian Blue Cheese & Butternut Squash Christmas Wreath

Whenever families gather for a celebration, there are invariably a variety of diets and preferences to cater for. For Tom, whose family is made up of vegetarians and meat eaters, the annual Christmas celebration used to be a bit of a challenge – until he developed this mouth-watering recipe...

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 40 mins

Serves: 10

Category: Vegetarian,Pies & Pastries,Christmas

Ingredients

  • 1 large pinch of salt
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 3 large sage leaves
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp white vermouth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large butternut squash (approx. 1kg peeled and de-seeded weight)
  • 1 large red onion (approx. 225g)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 60g dried cranberries
  • 75g walnut pieces
  • 2 x 320g rolls of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
  • 200g stilton cheese
  • A grating of fresh parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1 egg yolk and a splash of water for glazing

Method

The Filling

  1. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic, sage, and thyme leaves (removed from the stalks) with a large pinch of salt to form a paste.
  2. Stir through the olive oil and vermouth before placing to one side.
  3. Peel and deseed the butternut squash before dicing into 2 cm cubes.
  4. Chop the red onion into similarly sized chunks before tipping the vegetables into a roasting tray and pouring over the garlic-oil dressing.
  5. Toss together to coat everything evenly and grind some fresh black pepper over the top, alongside two bay leaves burrowed beneath the veg.
  6. Seal the tin with a sheet of tin foil and pop in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. While the vegetables are cooking, pop the dried cranberries into a bowl and cover with some freshly boiled hot water from the kettle. Leave to one side to rehydrate slightly.
  8. Crumble the walnut pieces into small chunks, about the same size as a little finger nail. Pop into a dry pan over a medium-high heat and carefully toast them to become golden brown. Be careful not to over-do them otherwise they will go bitter.
  9. After half an hour, carefully remove the tin foil from the tray and stir the vegetables together.
  10. Return to the oven uncovered for a further 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool to room temperature in the tray. Almost all of the liquid should have evaporated in the oven to leave a dry-ish pan.
  11. Drain the cranberries and gently squeeze them to remove some of the excess water.
  12. Remove the two bay leaves from the vegetables before carefully stirring through the plumped-up cranberries and toasted walnuts. If making ahead of time, pop the mixture into a sealed bowl and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  13. When ready to assemble the wreath, remove the shop-bought ready rolled puff pastry from the fridge and allow to rest on the side for 10 minutes. This will make it easier to unroll the pastry.

The Pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6
  2. Unroll the two sheets of pastry. Laying horizontally, with the longest edge running parallel to the edge of the worktop and cut from front to back into three equally sized pieces.
  3. Slice each of the six pieces of pastry into triangles, cutting diagonally from the front shortest edge on the right to the rear shortest edge on the left. This will leave you with 12 triangles.
  4. Take a large piece of grease proof paper and draw a circle on one side, using the bottom of a 20cm cake tin as a guide.
  5. Lay this on the largest baking tray you have (I use the grill pan from my oven without the rack). Following the circle you have drawn, I lay the short edge of each pastry triangle along the line, overlapping as I move around.
  6. Spoon the cooled vegetable mix in a ring around the pastry, leaving a 1cm gap from the middle edge. Cut the rind off the stilton and dice into 1cm cubes. Dot the cheese around the top and sides of the vegetable ring, pressing in gently.
  7. Fold the points of the pastry triangles over the filling and tucking under the middle of the ring. When all of the pastry is folded over, use your hands to gently squeeze the pastry and veg together, shaping into an even ring.
  8. Brush over the pastry with an egg yolk thinned out with a splash of water before sprinkling over a gentle blizzard of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.
  9. Pop the wreath into the oven for 30-35 minutes until the pastry has turned golden brown. Serve while warm with some cranberry sauce and all the festive vegetarian trimmings.

Tom Frizell-Shackley is a food writer, recipe developer and freelance PR consultant, based in the North of England. He lives with his partner, son, three spaniels and four rescued ex-battery chickens. Since 2019, he has published recipes and kitchen tips for his Kitchen Notes food blog – www.kitchennotes.co.uk