Our festive filo rotolo is an adaption of an Italian dish, traditionally made with pasta (rotolo means "roll"). We've used filo in our recipe and stuffed it with a combination of winter squash, spinach, roasted walnuts, and artichokes, for a delicious vegetarian centrepiece for Christmas lunch. You can serve it as a main course alongside roast heritage carrots, or slice it thinly and serve as a starter. The rotolo can be cooked straight away and reheated on the day, or make up to a day in advance and bake off on the day. You can also make it in stages, make the fillings up a day or two in advance, then assemble it bake off on the day. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before cooking then bake off as per instructions.
The recipe consists of three sub recipes follow by steps for assembling the rotolo, plus decoration if you'd like (it is Christmas after all!).
Festive Filo Rotolo
Serves: 8 | Dietary: Vegan option
Prep time: 1 1/2 hours | Cook time: 40 minutes
- 1 pack of jus roll filo pastry (7 sheets)
- Melted butter (or olive oil if vegan) to brush the pastry
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
Roasted Squash filling
- 1 medium squash (approx 700g weight when prepped)
- 1 tsp pink peppercorns
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bulb garlic
- 6 stems of thyme
- 1 ½ egg yolks (or 1 tbsp gram flour if vegan)
- Pre-heat the oven to 170CFan/190C/gas 5
- Chop the squash into cubes of approximately 1 cm, dress with the olive oil and the thyme. Halve the garlic through the middle and place, cut side down, on the baking tray with the squash. Grind the pink peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and stir into the squash. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the squash is soft and starting to caramelise at the edges, stir it a few times during cooking. While the squash is roasting prepare the spinach and the artichoke fillings.
- Once the squash is cooked, remove any thyme stalks and squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and roughly mash it into the squash. Taste and season with salt, then mix in the egg yolks.
Spinach with mustard seeds and feta
- 250g bag of spinach
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- Grated nutmeg (to taste)
- Salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 100g feta roughly crumbled (dairy or plant based)
- ½ egg yolk (or ½ tbsp gram flour if vegan)
- Wash the spinach in a colander and whilst still wet put in a saucepan with a lid. Heat gently, stirring often until the spinach starts to wilt, then put on the lid for a couple of minutes so the spinach is all wilted. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and squeeze out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon. Meanwhile heat the oil in the same saucepan which you wilted the spinach in and add the mustard seeds and nutmeg. When the seeds begin to pop add the squeezed spinach and stir well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the feta and egg yolk or gram flour.
Roasted walnuts with artichokes
- 50g walnut halves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp Maldon salt
- 100g artichoke hearts
- A small handful of flat leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a baking tray toss the walnut halves in the olive oil and add the smoked paprika and salt. Roast at 170CFan/190C/GasMark5 for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then break up the walnuts in a pestle and mortar.
- Chop the artichokes and the flat leaf parsley finely and then stir them into the walnuts. Squeeze on the lemon and stir well. Add salt to taste.
Construct the rotolo
- Place a large piece of tin foil on a work surface
- On top of the foil place a sheet of filo placed in landscape position, brush with oil or butter. Lay a second sheet above the first with a 10cm overlap. Brush the second sheet with oil or butter. Sprinkle the sesame seeds all over the filo.
- Layer two more whole sheets of filo pastry on top in the same way, then another two. Make sure you brush oil or butter in between each layer. Place the last sheet of filo in the bottom position and brush with oil or butter.
- Spread the roasted squash over the central area of the bottom piece of filo into a rectangle sized 30cm long and 15cm wide.
- Spread the spinach evenly over the surface of the squash leaving a margin of 1cm of squash clear top and bottom.
- Place the artichoke mixture down the middle on top of the spinach mixture in a long sausage shape.
- Working carefully, and using the foil to help you roll, start to roll up the Rotolo. Make sure the artichoke stays as a central sausage shape and the squash mixture meets to create a round shape. Roll half way up the filo length. Gently and loosely tuck in both ends to seal in the fillings, folding the filo in by 5cm up the length of the filo, then continue to roll up the length. When you come to the end of the filo you should have a tidy round sausage shape.
- Position the rotolo using the foil to lift it onto a baking tray. Bake at 170CFan for 40 minutes until golden. Check after 20 and 30 minutes, you may need to cover parts of the filo loosely with the foil as it may brown unevenly depending on your oven. If its browning all over too quickly, turn the oven down by 10 degrees for the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.
- 8 pecans
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 12 large dried cranberries
- a few sprigs of thyme, sage and rosemary
- Place the pecans and maple syrup in a small saucepan, boil the maple syrup to reduce and thicken so the pecans are evenly coated, tip the pecans out onto parchment to cool down.
- Decorate the top of the filo roll once it comes out of the oven with the cranberries, pecans, fresh thyme, rosemary and sage leaves.
Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.
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