Here is a fun way to create a great vegetarian entree using puff pastry. Saute two pounds of spinach in olive oil with fresh mixed herbs. When you get it thoroughly wilted, put it in a colander and let it cool and drain. Next take three lbs of sliced mushrooms and saute them until they are soft and deglaze them with 8 oz. of red wine and a 2 oz. of balsamic vinegar. Cook them until all the liquid is gone. You will be stirring quite a bit as the last of it evaporates now set them aside in a bowl to cool.
Take2 logs (20 oz.) of Cherve (French goat cheese) and put it into a bowl and mix it with a hand mixer to make it soft. If you don’t like goat cheese use domestic “feta” which is cow’s milk instead Add some fresh minced garlic and fresh Italian herbs or dried if you like. Salt and pepper to taste. Now you need a 10″ by 15″ sheet of puff pastry dough. You can usually get these at your local deli. This will make enough for 6 entrees.
Now you will need a couple of eggs to use as an egg wash to seal the seams and to make the dough shine when you bake it. Put them into a small bowl and add a couple tablespoons of water. Mix them up with a fork and drag out your pastry brush ready for action.
Lay the dough out on your floured cutting board and flatten it out with a rolling pin a little bit more than it already is. Roll it out about two to three inches all the way around. So now you have a sheet that is about 20 inches long by 13 inches or so wide. Now for the filling, the spinach needs to be hand squeezed to get rid of as much liquid as possible. This is necessary so that it does not saturate the puff pastry. Once that is finished the filling is ready to go.
First, take the spinach and make a fat one inch tall by 2 inches wide row down the pastry starting about three inches from one end and stopping about three inches from the other end. This is done by placing handfuls of spinach on the dough and forming it into a long line, about 2″ wide and evenly dispersed. Next do the same thing along side of the spinach with the sautéed mushrooms. Go end to end leaving the last three inches on both ends empty. I think the quantities should be just right to fill the space.
Now if you are using goat cheese you will need a pastry bag with a large round tip. Squeeze out a line of cheese on top and down the center between the spinach and the mushrooms. With feta you can simply crumble it over the two evenly to cover the two other and add your seasonings after you have finished. Now it is time to make the envelope.
First brush the egg wash around the entire outside edge of the dough. Now fold each end (the short side as you view the picture) of the rectangle back over the filling even with where the filling stopped. Next brush the newly exposed dry spots on the dough with egg wash (this is the sealing glue). Now for the sides, take one side and fold it over the filling. It should be just enough to cover over the filling without draping onto the other side. Once again brush with egg wash and fold the final side on top of the other side. This exposed side does not need to be egg washed because it will be the bottom of your creation.
Now you can roll the entire log over onto its double side. Gently brush off any large accumulations of flour from the newly exposed side. Now it can be transferred to a cookie sheet. At this point it should be 4 inches wide and about 14 inches long the cheese will be on the bottom covered by two layers of pastry to keep from burning. Once you have transferred it to the cookie sheet brush the top and sides. Now turn your oven to 400 degrees and let it preheat. The final step is to take a knife and make a series of diagonal slices across the top about two inches apart.
When the oven gets to temperature put your strudel in for about 20 minutes until it rises and turns a nice golden brown. This makes a great vegetarian entree and it will serve 6 people easily. Enjoy!!