recipe

Credit: EARL CARTER

Vegan sausage rolls

Australian sporting culture has its own traditions, especially in the month of September. As the AFL and NRL reach their zenith, there is many a function being planned that involves large television screens and a lot of shouting at said screen.

I have been lucky this year and had two weeks of holidays at the beginning of September. This has allowed me to indulge in a few things I rarely get a chance to. I have attended a country girls’ footy match and an AFL finals match. There is something incredibly compelling about the passion that is invoked both on the smallest stage and the largest. For all the negatives that are so often portrayed, the footy clubs of small country towns are often the glue that bonds towns in a way few things can.

Scaled up to the multimillion-dollar businesses that the country’s two biggest codes have become, that sense of unity and belonging turns into a powerful sense of tribalism, audible when a parochial chant goes up in the biggest stadium we have. Then there is the food that is on offer at a small country venue and a large stadium. And unfortunately, it is woeful. I am not sure whether it says more about our expectations or tastes, but, gosh, it’s bad. So if you care about what you eat or are a vegetarian, pack a picnic, as your choices may be non-existent.

Whether you are entertaining at home or packing a picnic, may I present my version of a vegan sausage roll. I’m using my friend Angela’s filo recipe and replacing butter puff with layers of an olive oil pastry, and the sausage mince filling with a simple roast of potatoes and pumpkin tossed with salt, olive oil and a liberal amount of dry chermoula spice mix, a North African blend featuring cumin, paprika, onion, turmeric, cayenne, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and coriander leaves.

The pastry is a beautiful hands-on experience to make. I like to make it in a spiral, but it can easily be baked as a log on a tray, more like a traditional sausage roll. It is delicious served with the kasoundi that you have squirrelled away since autumn. If you are not vegan, the filling can be augmented with a little crumbled fetta, and the finished dish served with yoghurt.

Vegan sausage rolls

Filo pastry

– 500g plain flour (baker’s flour if available)

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tbsp vinegar

– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– 250ml water

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Make a well in the centre and add the vinegar, oil and water and mix to form a dough. You can use a mixer with a dough hook for this stage, or place the dough on a smooth surface and knead until very smooth (about 10 minutes). Do not add more flour.

Cover the dough with cling wrap and rest for at least one hour. 

At this point you can freeze the pastry. To do this it will need to be well wrapped in plastic.

Vegetable filling

– 1kg skinned and deseeded pumpkin, in a 1cm dice

– 1kg peeled potatoes, in a 1cm dice

– 3 tsp chermoula spice mix

– 2 tsp flaked salt

– 60ml olive oil

– a little extra olive oil for brushing pastry

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Toss the pumpkin and potatoes with the spices, salt and olive oil. Place on a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes or until both the pumpkin and potatoes are cooked. Remove from the oven, cool and smoosh together. The pumpkin should have become quite soft and “bind” with the potato. Set aside.

To assemble, cut the pastry into six pieces and shape each one into an oblong shape (about 10 centimetres x 20 centimetres), using your hands to make it as flat as you can. Oil each piece and divide into two piles of three (rest for 15 minutes).

Roll each pile into a long piece of pastry to about five millimetres thick. Using your hands, gently stretch the pastry, working around each side until it is thin enough to see through. If necessary, drizzle the pastry with olive oil to ensure it remains soft and easy to stretch. The filo piece should now be about 70 centimetres x 100 centimetres. Repeat with the other half of the pastry.

Oil two 23-centimetre pie dishes. Take one filo sheet and brush it with olive oil and add the filling along the length of its base. Roll this up to form a sausage shape about five centimetres wide, making sure you squeeze it slightly to make it as tight as possible. (Don’t worry about little tears, they become air pockets and add crunch.) Place this in the baking dish starting in the middle and roll it around itself to form a spiral. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Add this to the other pie dish. Alternatively, you can make parcels or rolls and bake them on a baking sheet.

Brush with the olive oil and with a sharp knife poke some airholes five centimetres apart along the spiral. Wet your hands and sprinkle the top of the pie with water. Bake until golden brown (about 40 minutes, depending on the shape you’ve chosen). Serve warm or at room temperature.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 29, 2018 as "Home and away favourite". Subscribe here.

Annie Smithers
is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.