I work for a catering company that serves weddings, private parties, luncheons and so much more. The food that comes out of the catering kitchen is some of the best I have ever tasted, no lie! Maybe I don’t eat at places that warrant food this delicious but I give mad props to Chef Paul and his crew!
One of my favorite things that Chef Paul makes (I have about 15 favorite things) is what he calls a Vegetable Wellington with Red Pepper Cream Sauce. It is vegetables rolled into phyllo dough with a thick pepper cream sauce. The vegetables are still crunchy but tender in the flaky pastry, and then I dip it in the creamy sauce and it is just heaven in my mouth. This is my attempt at creating what I wish I could do daily.
Vegetable Pockets with Tomato Cream Sauce
(Makes 4 pockets)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 plus 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into sticks
- 1 medium summer squash, cut into sticks
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into sticks
- 1 large carrot, grated or cut into sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup mozzarella or provolone cheese, grated
- 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup half & half
- 12 sheets phyllo dough, THAWED in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 2 hours
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup of butter, melted
- 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
- 4 oz water
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
Cooking the Veggies
I strongly suggest that you prep ALL of the vegetables before you get cooking. Look at those beautiful colors of nature!
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallot and then 2 cloves of minced garlic until they are just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add in the thyme and give a quick stir.
Add in the zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4-6 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still tender.
Sprinkle on the cheese and add in the 3 tablespoons of half & half. Mix together and let cook for 1 more minute, then kill the heat.
Let it cool for a few minutes and transfer to a medium sized bowl to cool down.
Creating a Sauce
One thing that I
often always fail at in the kitchen is making sauces… correction thickening sauces. There is obviously a science to it that I have yet to learn and master but for now I will eat, dip and dine with delicious thin runny sauces.
In a small pot over medium-high heat, add in the tomato sauce and water. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 clove of minced garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until it is reduced (if you can accomplish that, unlike me). Add in the cream and stir to combine.
Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the sauce so there are minimal imperfections. You may have to use a spoon to help the sauce through. Return to the pot to keep the sauce warm.
Making your Pockets
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. When the filling is cooled, it is time to work with the phyllo dough. This was my first attempt ever with phyllo dough and for the most part I think I did something right. Be sure to get your butter melted and ready!
On a nice flat dry surface, gently peel and lay down one sheet of phyllo. Brush cautiously with butter using a pastry brush. Add another sheet on top and repeat until you have 4 sheets all covered with butter.
Add 1/4 of your veggie mixture to the left side of the phyllo sheets leaving at least a two inch boarder.
Fold the left flap over the veggies, then fold over the top and bottom edged, as if you were rolling a burrito.
Roll the veggies and flaps over toward the right until it is all wrapped up. Do not fret about rips and tears, lay them where they should be and the butter will glue it all back together. Place the pocket seam side down on a buttered baking sheet, brush the tops and sides with butter to assist with browning and deliciousness.
Repeat until you have 4 perfect pockets. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pockets are golden brown and crispy on top. Just look at that crispy awesomeness!
Enjoy your Pockets & Sauce
I would call this a success for my first attempt! The filling was cheesy and the veggies still had a crunch. The phyllo was flaky and one of the bests parts. The sauce gave the pockets another element of savory bliss. They were so satisfying I had to eat two of them. Shocker.