Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mushroom and Caramelized-Shallot Strudel

I am starting off November with a visually-appealing entree that could easily be the centerpiece at your upcoming Thanksgiving.  Since it's a little complicated, I wanted a practice round before the holiday is upon us, and if you find the recipe appealing, it gives you time to plan your menu in advance.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sliced shallots
  • 1/8 teaspoon vegan sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala*
  • 2/3 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed**
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter
1.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and sugar, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Sprinkle with the water; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally - the shallots should be soft by the end.

2. Add the mushrooms.  Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is evaporated.

Note: The liquid is that released by the mushrooms, and this step could take quite a while - anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, depending how hot you have the burner and how much liquid the mushrooms let out.

3. Add the Marsala and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Stir in the sour cream, parsley, salt, thyme, and black pepper.

4. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large work surface (and keep the remaining phyllo dough covered with a paper towel to prevent it from drying out).  Lightly coat with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with 2 heaping teaspoons breadcrumbs.  Repeat the process twice: 1 sheet of phyllo, cooking spray, and 2 teaspoons breadcrumbs, followed by a third sheet of phyllo, cooking spray, and 2 teaspoons breadcrumbs.  Top the stack with a fourth sheet of phyllo.

5. Spoon 1 and 3/4 cups mushroom mixture along one long edge of the phyllo, leaving a 1-inch border.  Starting at that long edge, roll up jelly roll fashion, and place the strudel, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Tuck the ends under.

6. Repeat this procedure with the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo, additional cooking spray, remaining breadcrumbs, and remaining mushroom mixture.  Brush the strudels evenly with the melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

7. Let stand for 5 minutes, before cutting each strudel into 4 slices.  Arrange on a platter and garnish with extra thyme sprigs, if desired.

There are so many foods that paired well with this strudel, I hardly know where to begin. A quick toss of sauteed sweet potatoes and apples, and homemade biscuits (ok, from a Bob's Red Mill mix), was one option:

Or pair with lentils, steamed green beans tossed with fresh dill, a vegan zinfandel, and canned cranberry sauce (I like Whole Foods' whole berry canned version):

Or if you're really thinking of this dish for Thanksgiving, try it with Gardein's stuffed turkey and gravy, with a green salad on the side to round out the meal:

Either way, you can't go wrong with these lovely little toffee bites from Sjaaks for dessert: 

*If you're looking for a sure-fire vegan Marsala, try the Marsala cooking wine from Napa Valley Naturals; the website FAQ assures that it is vegan. 

**My favorite vegan phyllo dough is from Fillo Factory. Their phyllo comes in larger sheets, 14x18inches long, which are too big for this strudel. Use a pizza cutter to slice in half, to make the sheets the right size for this recipe (14x9 inches).  Leftover dough can be re-frozen, or refrigerated and used within a few days. 

Nutrition Info:
2 strudels, 4 servings per strudel (1 slice), Calories 176 

Tasting Notes:
The very top layer of phyllo became a touch too crackly and crispy in the oven, despite the butter brushed on top, but aside from that one disappointment, this strudel is a spectacular entree. Rich earthy flavor from the mushrooms, Marsala, and thyme, although that last could be stronger. The sour cream kept the filling creamy (a bit like a stroganoff mixture), and the layers of phyllo and breadcrumb added great texture to each bite.  


When I made this again, I made a couple slight tweaks thanks to the great folks at Opici who confirmed that their Madeira is suitable for vegans.

The Madeira was smoother and more understated than the Marsala, making for a filling in which the mushrooms stood out better, but other than that, there was very little difference between the two versions. I also used dried thyme instead of fresh, but again, this change made a negligible difference.

On the menu the second time 'round was a Match crab and butternut squash bisque:

Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes:

and stuffing with thyme:

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