Despite being Jewish, Christmas is a big deal in my family. Essentially, we treat it like a Jewish holiday: an opportunity to get together lots of extended family for tons of food, lots of wine, and the occasional, uhm, heated discussion. This year, my mother had decided that we were going to have beef Wellington for Christmas dinner, an option which certainly appealed to me.
The thing is, early on Christmas afternoon, as we were preparing the beef, it occurred that one of the cousins coming to dinner is a vegetarian, and banishing her to mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce just didn’t seem OK. So, vague schemes in mind, I set out to the grocer for inspiration and ingredients. There I purchased tofu, garlic, and Italian parsley; I’d wanted spinach, but they had none.
By the time I got home, my plan was hatched. This is what I had:
1 block extra firm tofu, well-drained and sliced in half (lengthwise)
5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup water and 1 cube veggie bullion (or 3/4 cup stock)
Cremini and shitake mushrooms (mostly cremini)
Half an onion
Puff pastry shell
Eggs, beaten with a little water
Salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 425.
First, I minced 4 cloves garlic, added the stock/bullion with a a handful of parsley, some oil, and a splash of vinegar. I put the tofu (cut down the center to make two thinner blocks, side-by-side) in this and covered it to marinate at room temperature.
Next, I chopped the mushrooms and onion. I sautéed them in olive oil with salt, pepper, and some garlic. I set that aside in the refrigerator.
When the tofu had marinated a couple of hours (more might have been nice), I poured off the marinade into a large frying pan, and then added the tofu, which I sautéed over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes per side. When finished, I drained and placed it in the refrigerator.
While that cooled, I sautéed the remaining parsley in oil and more vinegar, with the remaining clove of garlic (minced), and put that in the fridge to cool.
Then, when everything was cool, I rolled out the pastry shell, layering as follows: mushroom mix, one half of the tofu, parsley, the second half of the tofu, and some more mushroom-mix. I wrapped it up, using the egg mix as paste, painted egg mix all over the outside, and cooked until pastry was golden – about 30 minutes.
The result was a hit with even non-vegetarian guests, and disappeared rather swiftly.
You can re-create the beef version of this in obvious ways, though I suggest dropping the parsley and adding a layer of Boursin, or something similar to it.