Veggie Christmas Centrepiece

Several years ago now, Mum and I decided to create our own Christmas centrepiece. I vividly remember us sitting at the kitchen table bouncing ideas off each other and scribbling down the best ones, and this was the result. It’s a butternut, chestnut and cranberry wellington with caramelised onions and goats’ cheese, and these days Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.

It’s much more simple to make than you’d think, and the different layers can all be prepared in advance to make it super easy on Christmas day. You can also find instructions for the rest of my Christmas dinner here!

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Ingredients (serves 6):
– 500g block of puff pastry
– 1 large butternut squash
– 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
– 2 onions
– 2 cloves garlic
– 30g butter
– 2 slices wholemeal bread
– 180g pack of whole cooked, peeled chestnuts
– about 100g cranberry sauce
– 125g pack soft goats’ cheese
– 1 small egg, beaten

1. Begin by preheating your oven to 200°C, and preparing the butternut squash: peel it and scoop out the seeds, and chop into chunks. Put into a large baking dish, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the thyme leaves along with some salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, until soft and beginning to turn darker at the edges.

2. Meanwhile, slice the onions and finely chop the garlic. Place them in a saucepan with the butter, and cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes, until completely soft and caramelised.

3. Blitz the bread in a food processor to make crumbs, then add the chestnuts and blitz again. *Up to this point in the recipe everything can be done the day before and set aside*

4. On a lightly floured worktop, roll out the pastry into a rectangular shape (about 2mm thick). Transfer to a lined baking tray and spread 3 tsp of the cranberry sauce onto the pastry, leaving about 5cm at the top and bottom and about 10cm each side. Layer on the chestnut breadcrumbs, followed by the roasted squash and then the caramelised onions. Dot over the goats’ cheese, then finish with the remaining cranberry sauce.

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5. Cut the sides into diagonal strips (sloping down from the top) about 3cm wide. Fold over the top section, then brush with beaten egg. Take the strip from the top right and fold it over. Brush with more beaten egg and follow by folding over the top strip on the left side: repeat to create a plait effect. Once completed, brush the whole thing with the beaten egg, then bake at 200°C for about 45 minutes. The cooking time will vary a bit depending on how much else you have in the oven – but the pastry should be golden brown and flaky.

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Any leftover wellington can also be portioned up and frozen – it makes a great treat to discover in the freezer a few months later! Merry Christmas all x

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