I call this my “emergency vegetarian meal”. It’s very useful for those times, for example, when you were planning to serve a roast pork and baked vegetable dinner for a group of people and discover on the day of the dinner that one of your guests is vegetarian. What to serve them so they feel like a welcome guest?
I usually have most of these ingredients in the pantry, fridge or freezer (especially if the vegetables are being roasted for everybody at the party) so I can scramble together a delicious dish that even the meat eaters will envy.
This recipe was inspired by one I saw in a supermarket magazine in the mid-1990s. It has remained a favourite through a few variations over the years. I have had my lattice cutting tool for about 20 years and it helps to create a special, fancy look to the parcels. Don’t despair if you have never seen one of these tools, let alone ever owned one, as a series of parallel lines cut with a knife will work just as well on the tops of these parcels.
The one ingredient I don’t often keep at the ready is the goat cheese. I would try and track down this cheese if you can, as it has a unique tart creaminess that makes it a star in this dish. If you really prefer not to use it, try another soft cheese such as feta.
Our freezer often has little packages of frozen cooked grains such as quinoa, as we usually cook extra and freeze the leftovers in handy sized portions, either in cling wrap or a small container or zip lock bag. This time we had pearl barley. I have also made this dish with couscous and with quinoa and it worked each time, so feel free to use what you have on hand.
Also, I happened to have some lingonberry sauce in the refrigerator from our recent Christmas so that’s what I used to spread over the pastry base this time. Cranberry sauce or redcurrant sauce are also good and what I would usually include. If you prefer not using a sweet sauce, try smearing the base with a thin layer of something like an olive tapenade or a sundried tomato pesto.
As you are putting it together layer upon layer, the ingredients do create a small mountain which can be tricky to balance. Be patient and careful, and remember it will shrink down a bit while cooking, particularly the baby spinach.
Vegetarian pastry parcels with roast vegetables and goat cheese
Rather than individual parcels, you could make this in a pie dish and just place one slashed or latticed pastry sheet on the top as a lid for the pie.