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Leek Croque Monsieur

OK, so this is not really a classic Croque Monsieur – however, it's pretty close, and tastes incredible! This recipe is wonderfully versatile, and you can add vegan ham, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus...you name it!

When making this dish, I like to use a good sourdough bread, and occasionally add wholegrain mustard or vegan cheese to the sauce. Its up to you: once you've mastered a basic vegan bechemal, the world is your oyster.

SERVES:
2-4

Ingredients

For the leeks

2 medium or large leeks, sliced

A few sprigs thyme

2 tbsp vegan butter

For the bechemal sauce

500ml oat or almond milk

2 bay leaves

10 whole black peppercorns

½ white onion

2 cloves

50g vegan butter

50g plain flour

2 tbs nutritional yeast

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Good grating fresh nutmeg

To serve

4 thick slices bread

Dijon mustard

Vegan Parm or alternative, grated (optional)

Green salad (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place a non-stick frying pan over a low heat. Add the sliced leeks, thyme sprigs, vegan butter, and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Gently cook the leeks until softened but still holding their shape, without letting them take on too much colour – this should take about 20 mins. Remove the thyme sprig and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the milk in a small saucepan over a low heat, and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, half-onion and cloves. Bring the milk gently up to a simmer, without letting it boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat, strain the milk into a jug, and set aside.
  3. Place the saucepan back on the hob, add the vegan butter, and allow it to gently melt – but don't let it brown. As soon as the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium, add the flour, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Begin adding the milk about 25ml at a time, stirring vigorously to combine between each addition. After you've used up half the milk, swap your spoon for a whisk, and continue adding the milk 50ml at a time, whisking to combine.
  5. Whisk in the nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard and fresh nutmeg, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let the sauce cook for five minutes, whisking from time to time. Season to taste.
  6. If you need to keep the sauce warm while you finish making the leeks, pour it into a warmed jug and cover the surface with clingfilm to stop a skin from forming.
  7. When you're ready to serve, toast your bread and spread it with a slick of Dijon mustard, then top with the buttery leeks, a few spoonfuls of bechamel sauce, and a sprinkling of vegan Parmesan, if using.
  8. Place in a hot oven or under a grill until bubbling and golden, then serve immediately, with a green salad on the side, if you like.

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