I dreamt of this combination one recent night. Luckily for me I keep a notepad and pencil on my bedside table (along with many tubes of hand cream for my dishpan hands), so was able to capture it before it slipped away into the dawning light. The sharpish, minerally flavours of the strudel with the almost-sweet, Spanish inspired flavours in the tomato fondue may sound unusual, but I do think they work. Whoever said ‘dreams can come true’ was right on this occasion. We wolfed down both strudels before I could take more than a few photos. I could however have taken a lot of pictures of flaky crumbs and smiling faces.
This makes two long strudels, so halve the recipe if you only want one. A single strudel will serve about three people for a main course. You could probably freeze one and cook from frozen, but I haven’t tried it. If you do that I would add a bit more cornflour.
The thick and exceedingly more-ish fondue – perfect to celebrate British Tomato Week – is enough for both strudels, with a bit extra for having on bruschetta or to extend an existing pasta sauce; lots of potential uses. The rather generous amount of oil makes it extra flavoursome and takes it beyond tomato sauce into fondue territory. I made a double batch to save cooking time on another occasion, but have given measures for one batch. This is even better if it’s made ahead and gently reheated.
Both recipes are my way of helping to celebrate and promote National Vegetarian Week. More celebratory recipes to follow. And, after a few February-like weeks, here’s to the sun finally appearing in Scotland! Woo hoo!
Goats Cheese, Swiss Chard & Walnut Strudel with Tomato Fondue
This recipe theoretically makes enough for 6-8 people (two strudels) but we couldn’t resist eating all the strudel and most of the tomato fondue in one go. But I’m sure you aren’t so greedy.
2 x 400g (1 lb) tins of best quality chopped tomatoes (very important) OR 1 kg (2 lbs) fresh local tomatoes, chopped
50 ml (2 oz) olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped OR brown onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (2 tsp, usually)
¼ tsp smoked paprika (this is pretty important to the flavour, but it will still be lovely even if it’s not available to you)
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 celery stick, halved (or some lovage leaves)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp sun-dried tomato puree (I’m so 90s!) – add extra if using fresh tomatoes
1 tsp fennel seeds, dry toasted for one minute then ground in a pestle and mortar
1 whole star anise, dry toasted for 1 minute
3 strips of orange peel
Salt and pepper, to taste (a good pinch of each for me)
1 tbsp brown OR white sugar, or according to taste
1 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar (or regular)
Slowly sauté the onion and garlic for 10 minutes; the onions need to be very soft, so cook them as long as you need to without colouring them. When they are meltingly soft add everything except the vinegar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste a little about halfway through cooking and add in a little sugar, to taste, After an hour add balsamic and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Adjust the sweetness again if necessary, bearing in mind all flavours will intensify upon cooling. Fish out the celery stick, bay and orange peel – and the star anise if you can find it! Let cool and gently reheat to serve. This is Miss R’s new favourite tomato sauce and can be used in a number of ways. It keeps very well and freezes too.
250g pack phyllo pastry – about 12 full sized sheets
100g (4 oz) best quality goats cheese – I used a Ragstone (unpasteurised) made by Neals Yard Creamery, via Ian Mellis – lovely and citrusy (if on chemo check with doctor if cooked unpasteurised cheese is okay, otherwise use a strong cheese like Ardrahan, available from Waitrose)
1 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
100g (4 oz) young Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped
10g dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 150 ml water (save liquid), pressed in a sieve & chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
75g (2.5 oz) crimini or chestnut (brown mushrooms), chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, dry toasted in a pan for one minute, then pound in pestle & mortar
75g (3 oz) walnuts, dry toasted then chopped finely– save back 2 tbsp
2 tsp cornflour
30g butter, for the pastry
Saute the onion and the garlic for a few minutes before adding the chard, dried & fresh mushrooms, fennel seeds and the walnuts. Slowly sauté until everything is soft – about 10 minutes on a low flame. Stir the mushroom water into the cornflour and ‘cook in’ for a further minute until you have a slightly thickened sauce. Set aside to cool.
Melt the butter for making up the strudel and keep it on your work surface.. Take a sheet of phyllo and lay it on the work surface – cover the remainder with a slightly damp (not wet) cloth. Lay the sheet long ends in front of you. Brush lightly with some of the butter. Carry on with two more sheets. Now sprinkle over one tablespoon of the reserved walnut crumbs. Add three more sheets of the phyllo in buttered layers. So, just so you are clear: six sheets of pastry for each of the strudels.
Spoon as much of the chard mixture onto the pastry as you dare, then top with nuggets of half of the goats cheese. Carry one with the other strudel. You may have some filling left over, so save it and add to some pasta later in the week.
Bake the strudels on two large lightly greased baking sheets in a 200C/400F oven, for about 25 minutes. They should be deeply golden and a bit crackly. Let them cool a wee bit before slicing and serving with warmed tomato fondue and some green leaves. If I was clever I would have scored them into portions before popping them into the oven – neater but not any tastier!