Filo Pouch with Veggies and Mushroom Thyme Sauce

The Musing: I was reminded that the “special time of year” was fast approaching when, the other day, my daughter created a Pandora station with Christmas music. I’m not going to write anything pithy here about the holidays or their true meaning; I’ll let that debate go on elsewhere. For me, the only contemplation I do at this is the time of year is about food and menus and gatherings. A bountiful table is a good thing, and I love to have them surrounded by friends an family. But I also like to enjoy the holiday without killing myself while creating the feast. Over the years, I have spent many holidays too tired be able to taste anything when we actually sit down. Somehow, at the moment when the magic is supposed to culminate, when everyone else is oohing and aahing and completely enraptured by epicurean delights, wine and conversation, my eyes glaze over and the fireworks turn into a puff of smoke that quickly dissipates.
       Thus, I’ve developed rules that help me in planning feasts that don’t leave me catatonic on the actual holiday. I’m going to share them over the next few weeks. One of the most crucial things I’ve learned is this: make only one complicated, multi-ingredient dish. Let this dish be the star. Keep all of the other dishes simple, clean and seasoned to highlight that particular ingredient, and so that they complement the one star dish. In this way, you can create a banquet with many dishes, each of which takes only minutes to prepare. By keeping side-dishes fresh and simple, they also work together in a culinary symphony of well-orchestrated flavors. When I get carried away and start fantasizing about all these spectacular side dishes with many ingredients and steps, I have to remind myself that for a holiday banquet, it’s the orchestra as a whole that matters, not the individual instruments. If I make all of the parts too complicated (and labor intensive!), they tend to clash (and I end up on the floor).

Filo Pouch with Roasted Butternut Squash, Fennel, Turnips, Caramelized Onions and Quinoa

The Recipe: The good folks from Supreme Master Television came over a couple of weeks ago to shoot two episodes with me for  their vegan cooking show, Vegetarianism – the Noble Way of Life. If you’ve heard of Loving Hut, the worldwide vegan restaurant chain, this is the organization behind them. They tirelessly promote veganism 24/7 through their restaurants, publications and television station. I had done a few episodes for them a few years ago (still on YouTube), and was delighted when David Smugar approached me at San Francisco’s World VegFest about doing a couple of more, one for World Vegan Day (Nov. 1) and the other for Thanksgiving. For the World Vegan Day episode, we decided on a cheese dish (yes, I’m promoting my cheese book every chance I get!) and we shot a Caprese Salad featuring my Buffalo Mozzarella, featured a year ago in this blog. For Thanksgiving, I made a pumpkin soup in a miniature pumpkin and a Filo Pouch with Roasted Veggies and Quinoa. You can catch both episodes on their web station – the former will be aired 4 times on November 1, and the latter 4 times on Thanksgiving Day. But of course, if you’d like to make these dishes for Thanksgiving, you just need to follow the recipes below. In case you hadn’t guessed, this would be the “star” dish for your holiday table – you only need to surround it with simple but beautifully prepared veggies and salad.

Filo Pouches with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa
Makes 8 servings
Relatively easy to assemble, these fat, crispy pastries are filled with a savory concoction of roasted butternut squash, fennel, turnips and caramelized onions, all tossed together with quinoa and nuts. Served with the Mushroom Thyme Sauce, it is befitting of a royal place on your holiday banquet table.
1 pound box filo (phyllo) dough, available in the frozen section of supermarkets, thawed according to package instructions
1/3 cup olive oil for the filo, or cooking spray
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 onions, sliced
2 ½ – 3 cups diced butternut squash
2 cups diced turnips
2 cups sliced fennel bulb
3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup walnuts, pulverized in a food processor to form crumbs
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons slivered fresh sage leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste
All of the following steps can be done simultaneously.
The Quinoa:
Place the quinoa and stock or water in a 2 quart saucepan. If using water, add ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Cover, and turn the heat onto high to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the quinoa is light and fluffy. Set aside.
The Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the vegetables and toss with 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the vegetables onto a sheet pan in one layer and roast in the hot oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until browned and tender.
Caramelize the Onions:
In a saute pan, heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and sprinkle them with sea salt. Cook the onions for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced and very brown. It is fine if they stick to the pan – this helps the caramelization. Finally, add a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the pan, and continue cooking for another couple of minutes until the liquid is absorbed by the onions.
To complete the mixture, combine the quinoa, veggies and onions in a bowl. Add the walnut crumbs, pine nuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix it all very well.
Place the filo on a dry kitchen towel and spread them out. Cut the filo sheets down the middle in half so you have two stacks about 8 inches wide and 11 inches long. Keep the stacks covered with a towel so that they do not dry out. Place one sheet on a dry surface and brush lightly with oil, or use cooking spray. Place another sheet on top and brush with oil or spray. Repeat twice more, so that you have used four sheets. Place about a slightly heaping cup of the veggie-quinoa mixture in the middle of the stacked four sheets of filo, and gather the filo around it, twisting at the top to form a pouch. Repeat the procedure to make 7 more pouches. Lightly spray or brush oil on the outside of each pouch. Place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
Mushroom Thyme Sauce
1 quart mushroom stock, either homemade or store-bought
2 – 3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup raw cashews
1 cups water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 – 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in a little water
Place the stock and soy sauce in a 2-quart saucepan and heat. Combine the water and cashews in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Add the thyme to the stock mixture. Pour in the cashew mixture and simmer until slightly thickened. Mix in the cornstarch or arrowroot mixture to thicken more until a glaze consistency is reached. Serve with the Filo Pouches.  


  1. This is absolutely delicious !! Real gourmet.
    The tastes blend so well together.

    Left out the roasted parsnips though, as they tasted bitter. Are parsnips supposed to be bitter ?

  2. It was turnips, as in the recipe, not parsnips. Are turnips supposed to be bitter ?

    • No, turnips are savory. But they can have a slight astringency, which usually mellows as it cooks, especially if roasted. It may be that you are especially sensitive.

  3. Marguerite says:

    This dish is wonderful! I made this last year for Thanksgiving and all the meat eaters raved about it! It was so good I’m making it again this year. It was surprisingly easy, and the presentation elegant. The leftovers were great the next day, also. (Obviously, don’t serve with the mushroom sauce until ready to eat!) I made extra mushroom sauce for the mashed potatoes and stuffing. This was the first time I cooked with turnips and they were delicious. The roasting definitely mellowed out the flavor and was so good I could eat it by itself. I bought my vegetables from a store that specializes in produce, so I’ve found that the freshness and quality of the produce can make a big difference in flavor. Thank you Miyoko for your website and recipes. Your cookbooks are on my holiday gift list for sure!