Robin Robertson ~ When I first discovered that Pepperidge Farm puff pastry was vegan, it was like winning the lottery. No other single ingredient does more to help create impressive and easy appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. In addition to being versatile and easy to use, it’s available in most supermarket freezer cases. For holiday entertaining, I like to make a few batches of small hors d’oeuvres that I assemble in advance, freeze on baking sheets, and then, once frozen, store in freezer bags. That way, they’re ready to go from freezer to oven and bake up crisp and hot.
Puff pastry can be cut or shaped into triangles, twists, crescents, puffs, or pillows. It can be filled to make miniature versions of empanadas, samosas, or tiny calzones. The pastry can be wrapped around olives, stuffed mushrooms, or small peppers for a burst of flavor “en croute.” You can make delicious “straws” by cutting the pastry into strips, twisting, and sprinkling with vegan Parmesan or a variety of herbs and seasonings. This versatile pastry can be used to work dessert magic, too, making it easy to create tarts, turnovers, napoleons, palmiers, and even profiteroles.
Here’s the recipe for one of my favorites, Pastry-Wrapped Stuffed Cherry Peppers. The recipe is from my new book, Party Vegan: Fabulous, Fun Food for Every Occasion …
Pastry-Wrapped Stuffed Cherry Peppers
Zesty stuffed peppers cloaked in pastry make an elegant and easy appetizer boasting multiple flavors and textures in a bite-sized package. Look for jars containing smallish peppers (around 1-inch in diameter). If the ones you have are larger, cut them in half for stuffing. Look for cherry peppers in well-stocked supermarkets or Italian grocery stores. This recipe is from Party Vegan by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons.
- 1 (16-ounce) jar hot or mild cherry peppers, drained
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped oil-packed or reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 frozen vegan puff pastry sheets, thawed
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the tops off the cherry peppers, scrape out the seeds, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and cook for 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor and add the sun-dried tomatoes, bread crumbs, basil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Pulse until well combined. Stuff the cherry peppers with the mixture and set aside.
4. Unfold the pastry sheet onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle about 12- x 15-inches. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the pastry into 3- to 3 1/2-inch squares. Place a stuffed pepper in the center of a pastry square and use your hands to enclose the pepper in the pastry, smoothing with your fingers to shape it into a smooth sphere. Transfer to a large baking sheet and repeat with the remaining peppers and pastry. Refrigerate about 10 minutes to firm up or until ready to use. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 20
Robin Robertson is a widely published vegan cookbook author with approximately 20 titles. A few of her most recent cookbooks include Party Vegan, Vegan on the Cheap, and Vegan Unplugged (co-authored with her husband, Jon Robertson). For more information on Robin and her books, visit her website, Global Vegan Kitchen. For more recipes, visit Robin's blog, Vegan Planet.