Freeze-ahead individual wellingtons, filled with cauliflower cheese, spinach, potato and toasted pine nut filling.
- 1 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
- 1 medium cauliflower cut into small florets
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 260g spinach leaves
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 500ml milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 200g mature Cheddar cheese grated
- 40g toasted pine nuts
- 500g butter puff pastry block
- Extra plain flour for dusting
- 1 free-range egg to glaze
- To make the wellington filling: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the chopped potatoes, and any thicker cauliflower stalk pieces and cook for 4 minutes. Add the florets and onion and cook for another 4-6 minutes until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender. Drain well and leave in the pan for the residual heat to dry out the vegetables further.
- Put a large saucepan on a very low heat and add the spinach. Put a lid on for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and stir gently until all the spinach is wilted. Drain well and squeeze out in kitchen towel or by squeezing in to a sieve to remove any liquid. Let the spinach cool down and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a small heavy-based saucepan over a very low heat until gently foaming, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir well to make a paste and cook for a few minutes until starting to smell nutty. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, continually stirring, until all the milk is absorbed and a smooth, thick sauce is formed. Once all the milk has been added, add the bay leaf, mustard, nutmeg and a pinch of black pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes more until you get a smooth, thick white sauce. Add the cheese and stir again until melted.
- Gently stir in the cauliflower, potatoes, onion and spinach, then remove from the heat. Pour into a baking dish or deep tray and sprinkle over the pine nuts. The wellingtons are best assembled when the filling is cold and solid, so cover the surface with a sheet of baking paper (this prevents a skin forming) and once cool, chill for at least 3 hours or make a day ahead.
- Roll the pastry out onto a floured work surface, to a large sheet about 5mm thick. Cut out 4 x 10cm rounds, and 4 x 14cm rounds, using a side plate or bowl to cut around. Set aside any offcuts of pastry. Transfer the smaller rounds to a parchment lined tray. Pile spoons of the wellington filling into the middles of the pastry rounds on the tray, leaving a generous border about 5cm wide around each edge. You may have some wellington filling leftover, don’t over fill the pastry or the wellingtons will leak in the oven.
- Take the offcuts of pastry and use a very small cutter to make holly leaves or other similar Christmas decorations.
- Glaze the border around the filling with a little of the beaten egg. Add the larger pastry circles over the top, pressing out any air bubbles, and crimp the pastry together to seal. Decorate the top with the pastry cuttings. Glaze with more beaten egg and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
- To cook, heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Brush the wellingtons with more beaten egg, and bake for 1 hr from frozen, or 35-40 minutes from chilled. Pierce the centre with a metal skewer, if steam escapes when it is pierced then it is ready.