Try this vegetable pithivier for an elegant and flavourful festive main dish. Packed with vegetables and herbs and encased in puff pastry.
I love a good Christmas dinner, moreover a good vegetarian Christmas dinner. As a vegetarian Christmas was always a bit restrictive whilst growing up. It was always a time of the year which was lovely and festive, with big smiles all around.
But the dinner tables were a different story. It was a time of the year that was very heavily meat focussed and I routinely felt like the odd one out if I was ever celebrating with friends.
Within my family we always resorted to a big vegetable lasagne or a pot pie as our main dish. We had a variety of sides, usually involving samosas, spring rolls and spiced roast potatoes.
As I started spending more and more time in the kitchen, I decided that I wanted to take over the Christmas dinner and try my hand at something more ‘traditional’. These individual pithiviers are one of the mains I usually make.
They’re elegant, look great and everyone gets their own one to enjoy!
What is a pithivier?
A pithivier is essentially a domed pastry which consists of two sheets of puff pastry with a layer of filling between them. It’s traditionally decorated with spiral cut and brushed with an egg wash for a golden shiny finish.
The traditional pattern involves scalloped edges and a spiralled score on the top later of pastry. The pastry itself originated in Pithiviers, a town south of Paris in France, in the 17th century.
The French are known for having incredible patisseries and some of the best pastry chefs world wide. Hence I just have to clarify that my vegetable pithivier would never meet their standard! (but it makes for a great Christmas dinner for your loved ones).
Pithiviers can be sweet or savoury, and some of the traditional sweet fillings contain frangipane or an almond cream. Originally pithiviers were based on sweet fillings however over time savoury options have become popular. Usually pithiviers are served as one large pastry however I do quite enjoy the smaller individual portions here.
This savoury vegetable pithivier
This savoury vegetable pithivier will be the perfect addition to your Christmas dinner. Frankly it’s also a great option for a weekend vegetarian roast. It’s filled with a ton of vegetables and herbs, then seasoned to perfection.
With a combination like butternut squash, chestnut mushrooms, leek, spinach, and roasted chestnuts, you really can’t go wrong. There’s also a healthy amount of garlic and nutmeg which adds great flavour and warmth to the filling.
Not to mention the sage and rosemary which are perfect roasting herbs. There’s something about sage that I just find so comforting. It’s always got a place somewhere in my Christmas dinner.
I’ve decided to keep these pithiviers as individual portions as it just looks more elegant when plated. It’s also easier to prepare in my opinion. If you were to do one large pithivier, you would have to roll out the top layer of pastry substantially as it needs to be larger than the base.
This causes the pastry to thin out, and therefore when baking and you lose a lot of the ‘puff’ that you should have with puff pastry. There is noting worse than puff pastry that’s not flaky. Hence I definitely recommend sticking to individual portions.
Serve this vegetable pithivier up with some onion gravy as well as selection of sides and you’re set to have a beautiful meal.
What you’ll need to make this Vegetarian Pithivier
The full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
You’ll require the following ingredients:
- Puff pastry
- Butternut squash
- Chestnut mushrooms
- Roasted chestnuts
- Black pepper
- Fresh sage
- Fresh rosemary
There is no compromise on flavour and texture here. I promise!
The butternut squash adds a little sweetness and nuttiness, whilst the mushroom adds umami. The leek adds additional butteriness as it cooks down which is a very welcomed addition. The roasted chestnuts also add some butteriness and a mellow sweetness whilst the walnuts are key for a bit of a bite.
The sage and rosemary complement each other and the combination provides an earthy, peppery, pine-like flavour. The rosemary retains flavour throughout cooking and hence is great for withstanding the cooking and baking process.
What should I serve alongside the vegetable pithivier?
I’d say to serve the pithivier with some great crispy roast potatoes, roasted carrots, roasted brussels sprouts. Perhaps even an eggless Yorkshire pudding (they do exist!), maybe some stuffing, and definitely some trusty onion gravy.
That’s what I plan to do this year as well. It’s a traditional vegetarian Christmas and a good variety of trimmings.
In fact, I may have a few recipes for you to try alongside this vegetable pithivier. Just click on the photos below to take you to the recipes.
Both are great options to make alongside. I always have some form of potato with my pastry. Be it roasted, mashed, or dauphinoise, you really can’t go wrong. If you want to add even more elegance then some lovely fondant potatoes will also work brilliantly!
It’s a hearty dish, but it is meant for roasts and for Christmas so I say let your mind run wild and enjoy all the accompaniments. There is no such thing as too many trimmings, and that’s a fact.
How to make the vegetable pithivier
Let’s make the pithivier filling:
1) Using a knife, score a cross onto the chestnuts and roast at 170’C until they’ve burst open and are tender like 2) This will take around 15 minutes
3) Peel the chestnuts from the shells (do this whilst warm to make it easier). Then Pulse the chestnuts and walnuts through a food processor until coarsely broken down, like 4)
5+6) Prepare the butternut squash by cutting into 2 sections. Cut just above the lower bulbous part.
7) Trim the ends off of the squash and use a spoon to remove the seeds
8) Peel the skin off from the segments
9) Roughly slice the butternut squash
10) Pulse through a food processor until coarsely chopped
11) Slice mushrooms into small chunks
12) Sauté in oil until caramelised like 13)
13) Remove caramelised mushrooms from the frying pan and keep aside
14) Finely slice the white and light green part of the leek. (the dark green portion can be washed and used in stocks)
15) Sauté the leek in a mixture of butter and olive oil until tender and starting to caramelise
16) Add in the garlic, rosemary, sage, nutmeg and black pepper
17) Add in the butternut squash, mushrooms, and the chestnuts and walnuts. Mix to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes
18) Finally add in the spinach and continue to cook until wilted
19) Refrigerate the mixture until cold
Now let’s assemble the pastry
You’ll require 2 cookie cutters/round cutters. The smaller one is 9cm in diameter, and the larger is 11cm. The smaller one is required for the base of the pastry, and the larger is to cover the top.
1) Cut the smaller pieces out first and place on the oven tray you plan to bake these on. For a pack of 375g of puff pastry you will be able to get 4 small bases and 4 larger top sheets.
2) Placed a heaped scoop of filling in the centre of each base. Try and shape this into a dome as it will provide a better finish once the top layer goes on
3) Lightly wet the edge of the base pastry with cold water
4) Place the larger sheet on top
5) Gently press around the seal the top layer and base layer
6) Don’t worry if the edges became uneven in the last step. Use the smaller cookie cutter once more to trim the edges
7+8) Use the nozzle of a piping bag, or anything of a similar size (or even a large cross with a sharp knife) to create a vent in the middle of each pastry
9) Very lightly score the sides of the pastry from the base upwards into a spiral pattern. Be quite light here
10) Prepare the ‘egg’ wash by mixing together the milk, butter and cornflour
11) Microwave the ‘egg’ wash mixture in increments of 10s until the mixture has heated thoroughly and the butter has melted. Mix to incorporate and allow to cool completely before using. The cornflour will help to thicken this into an egg wash consistency whilst also providing some shine to the final bake.
12) Brush the pastries with the egg wash and bake at 200’C until golden brown and flaky
Questions and answers:
Can this be made vegan?
Absolutely. Use a vegan puff pastry, vegan butter in the ‘egg’ wash, and vegan butter when cooking the leeks (or just oil)
Can the vegetable pithivier be prepared in advance?
There are two ways to do this. Either prepare the filling in advance and leave refrigerated, then assemble on the day. Or prepare the pastries completely (without the egg wash) on a baking tray lined with greaseproof/baking paper.
Place these into the freezer until completely frozen. Then transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag. Bake these from frozen, and just brush the pastries with the egg wash before baking. You’ll need to add an additional 5 minutes to the bake time.
Are there any substitutes for the butternut squash?
You can substitute the butternut squash for pumpkin or even sweet potato.
I can’t find any chestnuts, what should I use instead?
Just add more walnuts instead. You’ll want to add an additional 50g, making it a total of 100g.
Can this be made into one large vegetable pithivier?
I’ve decided to keep these pithiviers as individual portions as it just looks more elegant when plated. It’s also easier to prepare in my opinion.
If you were to do one large pithivier, you would have to roll out the top layer of pastry substantially as it needs to be larger than the base. This causes the pastry to thin out, and therefore when baking and you lose a lot of the ‘puff’ that you should have with puff pastry.
There is noting worse than puff pastry that’s not flaky. Hence I definitely recommend sticking to individual portions. If you do want to do a large on, you’ll be better off with buying a puff pastry block rather than a pre-roller sheet. You’ll then need to roll out the block into a large enough sheet.
- Food processor
- Ice cream scoop
- Nozzle from a piping bag
- Pastry brush
- 9cm round cutter (~3.5inches)
- 11cm round cutter (~4.5inches)
For the filling:
- 1 small butternut squash equivalent to 1kg in weight (before peeling)
- 250 g chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
- 20 chestnuts
- 50 g walnuts
- 1 large leek finely sliced (trim off the darker green portion of the leek, either discard or keep aside for simmering in stocks and soups)
- 150 g spinach
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 tsp black pepper
- Handful sage roughly chopped
- Handful rosemary roughly chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 x 375g packs of puff pastry if using a 320g pack you may need a 4th pack
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp butter
- 5 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp corn flour
Preparing the filling:
- First prepare the chestnuts. Preheat your oven to 170'C fan/190'C conventional. Score a cross into the chestnuts with a sharp knife and roast for 12-15 minutes. They should have burst open and be knife-tender
- Allow the chestnuts to cool slightly then peel them from the shells whilst still warm (much easier to do whilst warm)
- Blitz the walnuts and chestnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Or chop roughly with a knife. Set aside
- Prepare the butternut squash by chopping into 2 sections, the bulbous lower portion and the cylindrical upper portion. Trim the stalk off then slice in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
- Peel the butternut squash pieces then blitz in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Set aside
- Sauté the mushrooms in 1tbsp of oil in a wide frying pan on high heat until brown and caramelised. Transfer the mushrooms aside
- In the same pan add all the butter and the remaining 2tbsp of oil and place on a medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the leek and sauté until softened and beginning to caramelise
- Then add the garlic, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine
- Add in the butternut squash, mushrooms, and the chestnut and walnut mixture. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes
- Finally add in the spinach and continue to cook until wilted. Add more salt at this stage if required
- Transfer the mix aside and refrigerate until cold
Preparing the pithivier:
- Preheat oven to 200'C fan or 220'C conventional
- First prepare the egg wash by mixing together the milk, butter and cornflour. Microwave in 10s increments until just steaming. Whisk to combine and allow to cool completely
- Cut out 4 smaller circles of pastry with the 9cm cutter and 4 larger circles with 11cm cutter. Try and cut these as close together as possible to minimise wastage
- Place the smaller pieces on the tray you intend to bake the pithiviers on. Line your baking tray with grease proof paper if you're worried about it sticking/easier clean up
- Place a heaped ice cream scoop of filling into the centre of the smaller pastry circle (roughly 4-5tbsp). Gently shape the filling into a dome
- Lightly wet the edge of the pastry with cold water using your finger or a brush
- Place the larger sheet on top and seal the edges together
- Use the smaller round cutter once more to trim around the pithivier for a clean shape
- Using the nozzle of a piping bag, push it into the centre of the pastry and rotate to cut a small circular vent at the top. Alternatively cut a cross using a sharp knife
- Lightly score the sides of the pastry with a sharp knife in a spiral pattern (do not cut all the way through)
- Brush with the 'eggwash' and bake for around 35 minutes or until golden, flaky and risen. You may need to add an additional 5 minutes if not fully golden all over
If you enjoyed this one, or would like to try something similar. Check out my mushroom wellington recipe! Tap the image below: