This a recipe I'm very fond of, which I often make using different toppings, such as puff pastry or mashed potatoes. Here, for a change, I made a cheesy, herby crumb that worked so well I'm sharing it with you!
The filling is also very versatile: you can add mushrooms, carrots, a cupful of frozen peas... whatever takes your fancy. However you decide to adapt it, this is an incredibly satisfying and comforting dish that's super tasty, meat-free, and makes a great mid-week meal for your family.
I used Like Meat Like Chicken Bites to give this bake the perfect meaty texture you're looking for, especially if you're transitioning into a plant-based diet, a vegan hosting meat-eaters, or simply having a meat-free day.
For the filling
2 heaped tbsp vegan butter
3-4 medium leeks, sliced
Small bunch fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
2 fat cloves garlic, grated
4 tbsp plain flour
175ml white wine (optional)
700ml good organic vegetable stock
360g Like Meat Like Chicken Bites
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
30g nutritional yeast
100ml oat cream (optional)
For the crumb
200g stale bread – I used sourdough – broken into pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
60g nutritional yeast
30g vegan parmesan
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Seasonal veg, peas or green salad
1. Add the butter, leeks and three quarters of the tarragon to a large frying pan and cook gently until the leeks are soft and buttery. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two.
2. Turn up the heat, add the flour, and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then add the wine, if using, and continue to stir until it's mostly evaporated and the mixture has thickened.
3. Gradually add the stock a third at a time, stirring until fully combined and thickened.
4. Add the Like Meat Like Chicken Bites, mustard, nutritional yeast and oat cream, if using, and add a good pinch of salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Continue to cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz all the crumb ingredients, except the oil, to form crumbs.
6. When the filling is ready, taste for seasoning, adjust if needed, and add the remaining tarragon leaves. Pour the mixture into a baking dish, top with the breadcrumbs, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and bubbling, and serve with your seasonal veg, peas, or green salad.
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