A flavourful roulade packed with meaty mushrooms, toothsome lentils and nutritious spinach. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or just a normal night’s dinner.
I stumbled upon this savoury roulade recipe by the Mouthwatering Vegan when I was actually searching for a vegan dessert roulade. But what an accidental fortuitous find! It looked absolutely scrumptious that I bookmarked it immediately. Furthermore it gave an opportunity to work with phyllo for the first time. Phyllo has a fussy reputation – a delicate and messy dough that requires tedious buttering and layering. But I’m always up to a challenge and so down to work it was!
But back to lentils (the post should be about lentils after all). Lentils are another favorite pantry staple; they are tasty, cook in a cinch and its uses highly versatile, from bulking up a simple salad to becoming a creamy base for soups and stews. Furthermore, the nutritional value of lentils is well-established. For example did you know that lentils pack the third highest level of protein of all legumes and nuts, trailing after soybeans and hemp only? There’s much to love about lentils! Lentils come in a myriad of colors including brown, green, yellow, red. The difference between them is the cooking time and texture. Red and yellow lentils cook in about 30 minutes and tend to break apart when cooked; hence they are often used in soups, stews and Indian daals or curries. On the other hand, green (or French/Puy) lentils are sturdier and retain their shape when cooked, which make them a better choice for salads. I also find that green lentils have a stronger, more earthy taste than the other varieties, which I adore. In case you were wondering, green lentils are also called Puy after their origin in the Puy region of France.
And for a final lentil tidbit – lentils have been eaten since antiquity and actually appears in the Bible four times (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28 and 23:11; Ezekiel 4:9). The most famous account is in Genesis 25:34, in which Esau exchanged his birthright to Jacob, his younger brother, for a bowl of lentil stew. Either Esau had been truly starving, or that must have been some serious stew!
For the lentil roulade I used green lentils for a more toothsome bite and extra flavour. I’m sure yellow or brown lentils would work too although it may turn out more mushy. Apart from lentils, the filling contains mushrooms and spinach. The trio are seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and reduced to a delicious stewy mix before spreading onto phyllo, then topped with a nutty mix. In fact if you are pressed for time, the filling itself makes a pretty good dish on its own! The roulade came out fantastic. There were playful textures and flavours for the palate to take pleasure in – a fragile frame of crispy phyllo that shattered into a million delicious pieces upon stabbing with a fork. Then there is the filling – meaty and earthy mushrooms and lentils with the nuttiness of crunchy nuts in between. To balance out the savouriness, I served this with some crisp-steamed broccoli and fresh cherry tomatoes. This is a crowd-pleaser that will warm the hearts of both vegan and non-vegan friends.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 4 cups mushrooms, chopped into small pieces (I used a mix of portobellos and shiitake)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 250 g cooked green puy lentils (can prepared from 125 g dry or one 400 g can)
- 6 oz (170 g) spinach, roughly chopped
- 3 whole sundried tomato, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1 slice of lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
- Zest of half lemon
- ¾ cup nuts, finely chopped (I used a blend of almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts; you can process them in a food processor, but don’t make powder of them, they still need to be in small pieces)
- 5 sheets of vegan phyllo pastry, thawed (I used Fillo Factory Organic Whole Wheat Filo Dough)
- Non-dairy milk to brush onto pastry
- If using dry lentils, cook the lentils. Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water to cover. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until tender. Set aside. If using canned lentils, drain and rinse. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, sweat onions in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until they turn soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, mushrooms and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cook until mushrooms release their juices and become soft, stirring often. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
- Then add in the tomato paste and spices and mix well to combine. Cook on medium-high for about 2 minutes until the spices release their aromas.
- Finally, add in the cooked lentils and stir, then the spinach and remaining ingredients for the stuffing. Cook on low for about 10-15 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the mixture is thick, rich and aromatic. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm temperature.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Then prepare the pastry sheets. On a floured surface, fold the pastry sheets together in such a way that you create one sheet approximately 10-inch x 7-inch (25 cm x 18 cm).
- Spoon the thick lentil stuffing onto the pastry sheet. Flatten and evenly distribute it using the back of a large spoon, leaving a ½-inch (1.3 cm) gap all round. Then top with the chopped nuts. Roll along the length to make log. If any bits fall out of the side, just push them back into place.
- Brush the roulade with non-dairy milk, then make horizontal cuts at 1-inch (2.5 cm) intervals on the surface of the dough. These will be your markers for each slice once cooked.
- Transfer the roulade onto a parchment-lined baking tray and bake at 400°F / 200°C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- As the roulade is baking, you may want to prepare some steamed veggies (eg broccoli or carrots), potatoes or a salad to go with the roulade.
- Remove roulade from oven and let cool slightly before slicing (it will be very flaky). Impress your non-vegan friends!