Friday, October 19, 2012

Napoleon of fall vegetables and herbed goat cheese

Lately, it seems like I've been just doing a lot of routine cooking, and not spending enough time having fun in the kitchen. Since it's Friday, I decided it was high time to change that!

It's definitely been feeling like fall, with lovely colors in the trees, chilly mornings and evenings, and the abundance of squashes and root vegetables everywhere I look! I've been making use of fall produce in savory soups and curries, simple but tasty fare. This napoleon of fall vegetables is a more elegant dish that could serve as a first course or vegetarian main dish. It's easy to put together but looks like you spent more time and effort on it than you did. 
What is a napoleon, you may ask? It's usually a sweet, made of puff pastry layered with pastry cream and berries. I liked the idea, but wanted a savory version. Mine builds layers of crispy puff pastry with a herb goat cheese mixture and roasted fall vegetables.

For the vegetables, use a combination of whatever's in season. I used delicata squash, celeriac and rutabaga, since they have distinct, but complementary flavors. For the herbed goat cheese, I used parsley, which highlights the faint parsley notes of the celeriac, but you could use any other herb of choice, or even any other flavoring that works with the vegetables. I used store-bought ready-rolled puff pastry, but you could make your own if you have the time. 

I served my napoleons with hasselback fingerling potatoes and sauteed balsamic-glazed radicchio on the side. A plate full of contrasting fall flavors and textures: crispy puff pastry layers, cool and tangy goat cheese, sweet squash, earthy rutabaga, herbal celeriac and bitter-sweet radicchio. Definitely a hit with me! I'm sending this off to the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Baking Challenge on Serious Eats.

Recipe: Napoleon of Fall Vegetables with herb goat cheese (serves 6)

The pastry, vegetables and cheese mixture can all be made ahead of time. Assemble just before serving.

1 sheet Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (or equivalent)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 t water
Roasted vegetables (Recipe follows)
Herb goat cheese (Recipe follows)

Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions. Roll out to thin it a bit. Cut into 9 equal squares/ rectangles. Dock with a fork, brush with egg glaze and bake in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. Slice each piece horizontally using a serrated knife.
Build alternate layers of pastry, cheese mixture and vegetables, beginning and ending with a piece of pastry. Serve immediately.

Roasted vegetables: Prepare any vegetables of choice as appropriate. I used delicata squash, rutabaga and celeriac, cutting them into large 2" pieces and peeling only the celeriac. Brush with olive oil flavored with any spice blend of choice. I used garlic and cumin. Roast in a 400F oven until tender and browned outside. Cool slightly, then slice thinly.

Herb goat cheese: Combine 3/4c soft goat cheese with 1/4c creme fraiche and 2T olive oil; stir till smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in 3T chopped herbs of choice (I used parsley)

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