Tag Archives: leeks

Recipe: Leek, spinach and pea risotto


Risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods, and I almost licked the plate when a friend and I inhaled bowls of spinach, leek and pea risotto (but made with barley) at Taurus Crafts near Lydney. So my mission was to recreate it at home. And it turned out to be about the easiest dish ever …

Except, I didn’t have any barley, so it was bog-standard risotto rice called in to play. What with a handful of frozen peas and two twirls of frozen spinach, it required a minimum of chopping. I approve thoroughly. Next time I might be inclined to try it with fresh thyme in.

If you make too much and can resist it cold, you can have risotto balls shallow-fried the next day. If you’re vegetarian, put a chunk of melty cheese in the middle; if you’re vegan, try them with salsa.


Ingredients (serves two, or one plus generous leftovers)

Half a leek

Knob of butter or tbsp of olive oil

120g of risotto rice 750ml of vegetarian stock (you may not need all of it)

Handful of frozen peas

Handful of fresh spinach, or a couple of lumps of frozen

Vegetarian-style parmesan

Sea salt

Black pepper

Finely chop the leek and soften in the butter or oil. Add the rice and stir to coat it. Once it starts crackling, add the stock gradually. Stir often to stop the rice sticking.

Once the rice is almost cooked (keep testing it), throw in the peas and spinach – and remember that if you’re using frozen spinach that it will release liquid. Once the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables cooked, remove from the heat and season with salt and black pepper.

If you’re vegetarian, add the parmesan substitute; if you’re vegan, try some nutritional yeast flakes. You can add a knob of butter or vegan spread to make the dish even more creamy. Let the risotto rest for a few minutes, then serve.

Recipe: Braised Leeks with Puy Lentils


Leeks are the most understated member of the onion family in terms of flavour, but somehow they are the only ones that really get to shine on their own. The trick is to cook them until they are tender, but not slimy. Here the braising brings out their sweetness and the lentils give the dish enough body to stand alone as a main course.

This is a grown-up dish of quiet pleasure, as satisfying as finding a convenient parking space or a perfectly ironed shirt.

I’d serve this with some mashed potato or crusty bread.

Braised Leeks photo DSCN1077_zps4e136416.jpg

1 red onion, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
100g puy lentils
500ml veg stock
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
4 leeks, washed and chopped into 5cm lengths

Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in a little oil until the onion has gone translucent.
Add the lentils, the stock and the thyme.
Simmer gently, with the lid on the pan for 30 minutes.
Push the leek pieces into the liquid and simmer for another 15 minutes or the leeks are tender to the point of a knife.
Serve with mashed potato or crusty bread.

Serves 2

Recipe: Christmas Seitan, Mushroom and Leek Loaf


Christmas is coming soon and in the weeks leading up to it, this blog is going to feature a few Christmassy recipes. We’re starting off with the big one, the main event, the roast meat replacement. The reason we’re posting this now, is that it contains Vital Wheat Gluten, which you might have to track down if you want to use this recipe, so I’m giving you time to do this before Christmas Day. I buy mine online, but if you have a local health store that stocks it all to the good.

I’ve come late to vegetarianism so I’ve never really been into the nut roast thing. I have two requirements for a Christmas roast – it should taste nice and you should be able to get cold cuts from it. I want to be able to have it in sandwiches! Seitan meets that last requirement, this loaf holds together well when it’s cold and will do very well with a bit of sage and onion stuffing between two slices of bread at 9pm on Christmas Day!

I’ve made the recipe with ordinary mushrooms and some dried shiitake mushrooms for added flavour, but you could make it with the same amount of shiitake mushrooms – it is Christmas after all. I cooked the lentil in enough water so that they were about the consistency of wallpaper paste. If yours are drier, just add extra water to the whole mix at the end. Use your own judgement about more liquid if it’s needed. It should be a fairly moist mix with about the same texture a bread dough, but if it’s too wet to hold together, add some more wheat gluten.

Seitan Leek & Mushroom Roast photo DSCN0998_zpsf4147cb1.jpg

Cooked ingredients
100g red lentils, cooked in water
2 leeks ,finely chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped to a medium fineness
10g dried shiitake mushroom, soaked and finely chopped

Wet ingredients
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup or vegetable Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp marmite
1 tsp mustard
100ml water

Dry ingredients
200g vital wheat gluten
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sage
1 tsp vegetable buillon powder, or 1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 white pepper

Heat a little oil in a saucepan and add the fresh and shiitake mushrooms. When they have started to reduce down, add the leeks and cook until they are translucent.
Let cool.
Mix the wet ingredients together and stir thoroughly.
Add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix together well.
Stir in the cooled leeks and mushrooms and the lentils.
Pour in the wet ingredients and stir well until everything is evenly distributed.
Tip out onto kitchen foil and form into an oval, loaf shape.
Wrap the foil around it and seal the edges.
Steam over hot water for 90 minutes.
Take it out of the steamer and open the foil. Let the loaf rest, uncovered for about 15 minutes before carving. This will help it to firm up.

Serves 4, with leftovers for sandwiches later

Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup


This classic soup should be in everyone’s repertoire, I think. Easy to make, and tastes great from very simple ingredients.

The milk or cream really makes a difference to the end product. Blended potato tends to go a bit gluey in texture and the milk stops that from happening. Soy milk or other non-dairy milks will work just as well. You need to be fairly generous with the salt in this soup – potato soaks up salt, so don’t be surprised if you have to add quite a bit more than normal to get the right taste.

Potato and leek soup photo DSCN0947_zpsd108bd9f.jpg

2 medium floury potatoes, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
500ml vegetable stock
200ml milk or 100ml single cream
1/2 small packet of flat leaf parsley

Add the potatoes and leek to a pan, cover with the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
Take off the heat, add the cream or milk and parsley.
Blend until smooth.
Season well with salt and pepper.

Serves 2

Recipe: Mushroom Soup


I’ve been going back to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg Every Day cookbook. In the soups section was a recipe for cream of mushroom soup. Now when I was growing up, the sovereign remedy for all childhood illnesses was a bowl of soup and a slice of bread cut into quarters. The soup came from a tin and the bread was white, but it was certain to help bear any cold or sniffle. My favourite was cream of chicken, and now I’ve gone veggie, chicken is off the menu, my comfort food to end all comfort foods is a tin of condensed cream of mushroom soup served over a packet of microwaved rice.

Now Hugh’s recipe involves cream, naturally enough, but I rarely have it in the house. I thought a bit and decided that potato would add body to the soup without overpowering the mushrooms. I think a couple of courgettes might work as well – they are brilliant blended in soups.

Like most soups this is quick and easy to make. I would recommend closed cup mushrooms in this for their lighter colour in the bowl. The dark-gilled field mushrooms will blend to something that looks like you might want to make breeze-blocks from.

I also really recommend the chopped tarragon. It completely lifts the soup to a different level. If you can’t get it, I suggest a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Mushroom soup photo 7560a5e3-66a9-484a-bbcf-85907a2426a3_zps1463ee57.jpg

1 leek, chopped
1 medium baking potato, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
300g mushrooms
750ml vegetable or mushroom stock
grating of nutmeg
1 tbsp sherry
chopped tarragon to garnish

Sweat the leek in a little oil until they have gone bright green and a little translucent.
Add the garlic and give it a few stirs.
Add the potato, mushrooms and vegetable stock.
Cover and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Blend the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in a few gratings of nutmeg and the sherry.
Serve with the tarragon as a garnish.

Serves 3-4

Recipe: Leek and haggis broth


There should still be some veggie haggis around in the chiller cabinets even this long after Burns’ Night. It makes a quick and tasty broth in this super-easy recipe.

Leek & haggis broth

1 leek, chopped
250g vegetarian haggis
750ml vegetable stock
Wholemeal toast for croutons

Wash and slices leeks and place in a saucepan with the vegetable stock.
Bring to the simmer and crumble in the haggis.
Simmer for half an hour.
Serve with the croutons crumbled over.

Serves 2

Recipe: Leek Pudding


The leek may be a symbol of Wales and the Scots may be famous for cock-a-leekie soup, but when it comes to Competitive Leek Growing the North East of England reigns supreme. Practically every village big enough to have a pub had a leek club all gearing up for the annual leek show, usually held in late September or early October. Now it is always good to have a hobby and I want to make it absolutely clear that no Freudian inferences are to be drawn from groups of men competing to see who can produce the longest and thickest cylindrical vegetables. I hope we’re clear about that. Good.

Now I tend to use leeks more in soups and stir-fries more than anything else, but there is one leek recipe that I remember with fondness from my school days – leek pudding. This is leeks cooked with suet pastry. The two traditional ways to make it are in a pudding basin (like steak and kidney pudding but with leeks replacing the meat) or as a kind of leek roly-poly where the raw leeks are rolled in the suet pastry and then wrapped and steamed.

My recipe is based on the latter version, but I’ve adapted it to cope with my limited steamer space, so instead of one big pudding, you get four smaller ones.

Leek puddings 2

At school we used to get leek pudding as an accompaniment to stew, usually, thus nicely covering three of main school food types – stodge, grease and mystery meat. These will do that duty as well, but they also stand alone to have with vegetables and a bit of vegetarian gravy. If you’re very hungry, two puddings would be suitable.

Leek puddings 1

150g self raising flour
75g vegetable suet
1 leek, finely sliced
1/2tsp fresh thyme leaves

Put the ingredients in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Mix well.
Add cold water and stir until the dough is made and there is no dry flour or suet at the bottom of the bowl. It will look like a lot of leeks and not very much dough at this stage. Don’t panic! The leeks will cook down and the dough will expand to cover them.
Divide the dough into quarters and place in the centre of kitchen foil squares about 40x40cm.
Fold the corners of the foil in and twist to seal, allowing enough room for the dough to expand.
Put the foil parcels in a steamer, cover and steam for 60 minutes.

Serves 2 as a lunch, or 4 with the puddings as an accompaniment to a larger meal.