My plan for Buried Carrots is to feature the very best vegetarian and vegan recipes I can find as well as give veggie-related restaurant, book and product reviews. This is my very first blog post. Ever. I’m excited and nervous. With so many other food blogs out there, I want to do things right. So of course, I toiled over what my first posted recipe should be, because surely it should be something mind-blowing, something so incredible that meat eaters the world over push aside their plates of beef for a taste, and vegetarians and vegans weep tears of joy. Right?
So, I debated whether I should choose an old favorite or something completely new. Stick with what I know or take a risk. I realized that I’d set my intentions for the new year to be productive, to try new things and take risks, and to generally spend more time doing the things I want to do to balance with the things I have to do. With all that in mind I chose to try something new: Roasted Vegetable Strudel. It seemed perfect: wintery, warm and healthy vegetables mixed with beans for a punch of protein, rolled in buttered filo dough and baked to crispy brown perfection. It would look fabulous, taste fabulous, and launch my new blog toward fabulousness.
And it was pretty fabulous. Just not as fabulous as I had hoped. The veggies had a great flavor, but I instantly noticed “textural” issues with the asparagus. The filo tasted great and browned up nicely, but crumbled into zillions of pieces when the strudel was sliced. So what now? Should I abandon the strudel and start over with a different recipe? I toiled over this too.
Ultimately I decided that no, I shouldn’t just pretend that the strudel never happened. Yes, Buried Carrots is supposed to be about the very best vegetarian and vegan food I can discover, but it’s also got to be about honesty, and the truth about the strudel, much like this blog on the day of my first post, is that it has potential. Sub out the asparagus for cauliflower or broccoli. Use homemade pastry dough for the strudel. Drizzle the sliced strudel with vegan hollandaise. Now we’re getting a little closer to fabulous. The seasoning was great, and the variety of veggies and addition of beans ensures that the strudel is filled to the brim with vitamins and fiber.
So really, the strudel was the perfect choice for my first post. It reminded me that being dynamic doesn’t mean being perfect, everything is going to have its good points and its bad points, but with potential you open the door to creatively approaching the future and working to make each new thing better than the last. I like potential. It leaves room for a lot. Potential is fabulous.
Roasted Vegetable Strudel
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch strips
12 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed (or substitute 1 ½ cups fresh broccoli or cauliflower)
1 small zucchini, cut into 3 inch long strips
3 medium carrots, cut into ¼ inch slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and cut into strips
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ cups cooked or 1 (15.5 oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
6 sheets frozen filo dough, thawed (or substitute favorite pastry dough recipe)
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the onion, asparagus, bell pepper, carrots, and zucchini in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer the veggies to a baking sheet or glass baking pan and roast until tender, about 40 minutes
While the vegetables are roasting, use a potato masher or fork to mash the white beans. Slice the tomatoes and chop the spinach. Transfer roasted vegetables to a large bowl and combine with spinach, tomatoes and beans. Allow mixture to cool completely.
Place one sheet of filo dough on a flat work surface. Brush with melted margarine. Layer another sheet on top of the first sheet and repeat the process until all six sheets are layered together. Spread the vegetable mixture lengthwise down the center of the filo dough, leaving room on each short end to fold the edges up. Fold in the short edges and then roll the long edges over the vegetable mixture. Basically you’re making a giant burrito with closed ends. Place the vegetable filled filo dough on a baking sheet, seam side down and brush with melted margarine. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.