Ms. Fancy Pants
First, before we go any further, let me reassure you that this dish is really quite easy to make. I swear! That being said, it’s one of the most impressive plates I’ve put on the dinner table recently. I had a big grin on my face, feeling all fancy and such. Even D raised an eye brow and commented on how nice it looked (he rarely notices presentation).
Indeed, it looked like something from the best restaurant in town. Tasted fantastic too, but that’s no surprise since it’s hard to go wrong with flaky buttery pastry encasing a melody of picked-that-day vegetables and herbs in gravy. I was just a teeny bit tickled with myself too for coming up with such a great way to use up my onslaught of string beans.
If you have a dinner party coming up, these vegetable pastry boxes would be ideal. You can prepare the pastry and chill it for up to several hours. You could also pre-cook the vegetables and chill them. When it comes time for the guest to arrive, pop the pastry into the pre-heated oven and simmer the vegetables with the gravy in a large skillet until the pastry boxes are ready. Assembly takes only a minute or two, letting you enjoy time with your guests while still impressing them with a hot main course straight out of the oven!
My only regret was not making more, since we polished off the four pastry boxes between us in no time flat. Good thing these were made at home, as we probably would have embarrassed ourselves in a fancy restaurant. While I don’t repeat recipes often in my kitchen for love of constantly trying something new, this particular recipe – or preparation actually since it’s so easy – will be making a return to the dinner table to use up more of my garden bounty over the summer.
Vegetables and Gravy in Pastry Boxes
Loosely adapted from Vegetarian: the best-ever recipe collection
8 oz. (1 sheet) puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
1 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 C. fresh beans snapped into small pieces
2 large carrots, cut into thin medallions
1 small zucchini, cut into small chunks
1 small bunch of Swiss chard, roughly chopped
2 sorrel leaves (optional), finely chopped
5 or 6 chives, snipped into little pieces
1 t. fresh finely chopped rosemary
1 t. fresh marjoram leaves, stems removed
1 t. fresh dill
Salt and pepper
1 can of mushroom or other gravy
½ C. shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 425 F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Lay the pastry sheet out flat and sprinkle with Parmesan, pressing it lightly into the dough with your fingers. Cut pastry into four equal squares. Lift the rectangles on to the baking sheet.
With a sharp knife, cut an inner square about a half inch from the pastry edge, cutting halfway through. Score a criss-cross pattern on the inner square. Spray the tops of the pastry squares lightly with cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and risen.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil. Add the carrots and beans and cook for five minutes. While those cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the zucchini, chard, and herbs until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the carrots and beans and add them to the skillet. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Stir in the gravy and heat through.
Using a sharp knife, remove the notched squares from the pastry boxes. Set the “lids” aside. Spoon the vegetables into the pastry boxes and sprinkle with a bit of mozzarella. Place a “lid” on top of each filled box and garnish with some herbs. Serve immediately.