Vail Colorful Cooking column: A healthy twist on Easter strudel
VAIL CO, Colorado
Chocolate bunnies and peeps are the classic Easter morning munchies, but here at Colorful Cooking we like to incorporate fruits and vegetables into the mix, while munching off the ears of a chocolate bunny). Spring is here in most states and that means the rabbits can eat the root vegetables while us humans can snack on some fresh spring fare.
Strawberries, pineapple and apricots are in season and a plate filled with chopped fruit is not only beautiful but healthy. As for vegetables, asparagus is what most people think of when spring hits. Green beans, broccoli, fennel, spinach, watercress, Swiss chard and avocado are some of the fresh vegetables you will find at the market this time of year.
If you are hosting an Easter brunch, making something ahead of time that you can pop in the oven, which will give you time to spend with your guests. One of my favorite egg dishes that can be made ahead is not only lovely looking, but filled with great veggies, diced ham and wrapped in puff pastry. Don’t be fooled, this fancy-looking dish is pretty simple to make and all ready to put in the oven while the kids are out searching for Easter bunny treats.
Strudel is classically a sweet Austrian pastry, but here it is savory, hearty and delicious. The trick is to undercook the eggs and add orange juice to the filling to help the eggs maintain their yellow color instead of turning that greenish overcooked hue. Plus, then you have leftover OJ for mimosas.
Puff pastry can be a intimidating, but totally worth the white glove handling. My only hint is do not let the pastry get too warm on your counter because then it will stick and be pesky to work with.
Once the pastry is cooked, allow it to rest, then slice it into pieces for a beautiful meal that includes savory eggs, fresh vegetables and a crispy, buttery crust. You may want to make two, and if you choose other vegetables, make sure you cook and drain well before mixing them into the eggs as veggies have a lot of water and you want your crust to be flaky not wet.
1 puff pastry
2 Tablespoons butter
9 eggs, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped coarsely
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cup asparagus, chopped to 1/2-inch pieces (discard tough ends)
1 cup ham, diced
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a skillet over medium heat and pour olive oil to coat the bottom.
Add onions and butter and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; stir in artichoke hearts.
In microwaveable bowl, place two tablespoons water and chopped asparagus, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes depending on thickness of spears. Drain on paper towel.
Whisk eight eggs, orange juice and cream cheese together.
Stir egg mixture into warm pan with onions and artichokes, stirring with heat proof spatula over medium low heat for 5 minutes.
Mix in asparagus, ham, salt and pepper to taste. Cook 4-5 minutes more or until mixed through, with eggs still soft and undercooked slightly. Refrigerate eggs until pastry is ready.
On a lightly floured, dusted surface, unfold one thawed puff pastry and using a rolling pin, roll to about 10 by 12 inches and transfer to parchment paper.
Trim off a triangle on each four corners of pastry, about 2 1/2 by 1 inch.
Place cooked egg mixture down the middle of pastry, cut strips (8) of pastry on the sides at about a 45 degree angle.
Fold top of pastry over eggs on each end and then braid the strips to cover the eggs.
Beat one egg in bowl with a sprinkle of salt and brush egg wash over puff pastry.
Cook pastry on baking sheet about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool five minutes before slicing.
Note: This can be prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. Prepare the eggs and stuff the pastry, do not cook pastry until ready to eat.
Tracy Miller adds fruits and veggies to all her meals. She teaches culinary classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and shares recipes on TV8’s Good Morning Vail. To contact her email Tracy@colorfulcooking.com or visit Colorfulcooking.com.