Saturday, 24 March 2012

Asparagus and Gruyere Parcels

This is probably one of my favourite vegetarian recipes. Crisp puff pastry with an oozing cheese filling. They are light, not too difficult to make, and perfect if you need a vegetarian option. They can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to cook. The recipe may look fiddly but I made a couple of them, while waiting for pizza and chips to cook in the oven. This is taken from Delia's "Vegetarian Collection".

Serves 6 (light lunch or starters)
350g fresh asparagus
175g of gruyere
3 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan, plus extra to sprinkle
200 ml of creme fraiche
salt and black pepper

For the pastry:
375g pack of fresh ready rolled puff pastry
flour for dusting
2 large egg yolks, beaten with a tablespoon of milk

You will need a large baking tray, lightly oiled

First remove the pastry from the fridge and let it come to room temperature (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, wash the asparagus in cold water, then take each stalk in both hands, and bend and snap off the woody end. Then lightly steam the asparagus until tender for 2-3 minutes.
Remove them from the steamer and allow them to cool. When cool, cut each one into 3, on the diagonal. Next, using a small sharp knife remove the rind from the Gruyère and cut it into ½ in (1 cm) cubes. In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan and crème fraîche and add some salt and freshly milled black pepper. Now carefully unroll the sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and cut it 3 widthways. Roll out one third until it measures 7 x 14 in, and then cut that into 2 squares measuring 7 x 7 in. Then repeat the rolling and cutting with the other 2 pieces of pastry, so you end up with 6 squares in all. Beat the egg yolks with the milk.
Next, you need to carefully brush the edges of the 6 pastry squares with this mixture. Then divide the crème fraîche filling between these 6 pieces of pastry, spooning about a level dessertspoon into the centre of each square. Next, divide the asparagus on top of the crème fraîche, with several cubes of cheese tucked in-between. Now pull up the opposite corners of each square to meet in the centre like an envelope. Carefully pinch the seams together to seal them, and make a small hole in the centre of each one to allow the steam to escape. Then, using a fish slice, transfer the parcels to the baking tray. Once you have made 6 parcels, cover them with clingfilm and chill until you are ready to cook them. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Then, brush each one with some of the remaining beaten-egg mix and lightly sprinkle each one with some Parmesan. Bake on a high shelf in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown, and serve them straightaway.

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