We decided to use the Monday public holiday to cook up something new (you might have noticed that the blog is very heavy on the restaurants these days - we're still cooking, but mostly old favourites). I flipped through the Smith & Daughters cookbook and settled on this kale and leek bake - it seemed perfect for the wintery turn that Melbourne's taken. There's a bit of faffing around - you flavour up some soy milk stock, separately cook the leek and the kale, stir together a cheesy sauce to bind it all together and fry up some chunky garlic bread crumbs for the top.
It's worth it though - hearty and thick, with an impressive cheesiness for a vegan bake. The crunchy breadcrumbs on top make it and we happily worked our way through the bake for work lunches all week. This will definitely come into our winter rotation. We served it up with this bbq baked tofu recipe, which was another winner - probably a bit more effort than you can really justify when you have so many other great tofu options, but a smoky, spicy treat to go alongside our cheesy bake.
Kale & leek bake
(slightly adapted from Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse's Smith & Daughters Cookbook)
2 cups soy milk
1 cup veggie stock
3 garlic cloves, two minced and one smashed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
small bunch parsley chopped (set the stems aside)
4 leeks, halved and cut into 1 cm pieces (set the green ends aside)
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup flour
120g shredded cheese (we use BioCheese because it melts well)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cups stale bread, cubed
Pour the soy milk and stock into a saucepan and throw in the smashed garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley stems and whichever green leek bits you can squeeze in.
Bring to the boil and then take the mix off the heat and leave it all to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl and throw out the stems, seeds etc.
Heat a tablespoon of the Nuttelex and a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the white leek pieces with a pinch of salt. Give it 10 minutes or so until it's softened completely. Set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Throw in a pinch of salt and the kale leaves. Cook them for 3-4 minutes until they've softened but are still bright green. Drain and refresh under some cold water to stop them from over-cooking.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease up a large baking dish.
Melt the rest of the Nuttelex in a frying pan. Add half the crushed garlic plus the thyme and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir thoroughly until you get a paste. Cook for another minute or so and then gradually add the infused soy milk stock, whisking to keep it all smooth. Add the shredded cheese and mustard and keep cooking until the cheese is all melted through.
Fry the bread cubes in some olive oil along with the chopped parsley and the rest of the garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the cubes are crispy and lightly golden. Set aside.
Stir the leeks and the kale leaves into the cheesy sauce and then pour the whole mix into your baking tray. Top with the garlic bread cubes and bake for 20 minutes.