Early Vegetarian Days
In the 80s when I was just setting up home and struggling to learn to cook, from time to time I toyed with vegetarianism. Vegetarianism was not new to me as a concept – in fact one of my best friends at school was vegetarian and we had endless arguments and discussions about the rights and wrongs of meat eating, sometimes taking up quite extreme positions as teenagers are wont to do.
Although I am still not and have never been a confirmed vegetarian, I have always leaned towards it – mainly because I really like vegetarian food but there are other environmental, altruistic reasons too. My husband and daughter are vegetarian so I have quite a lot of experience in veggie cooking these days.
In my more vegetarian moments I have always been grateful for Cranks recipes and still turn back to the Cranks recipe book to make some old favourite vegetarian dishes. I especially liked to use it in the 1980s, when we had friends round for dinner, which we did quite frequently in the days before children!
There was probably an element of competition among friends to find unusual and tasty recipes and so the Cranks recipe book was often consulted on the occasions when the dinner party was at my house.
Easy, delicious and impressive, this is good for a vegetarian dinner party and for a mid week supper for the family
The Cranks recipe book recommends its Creamy Leek Croustade as a dinner party dish so I have made it on several occasions (although careful not to give it to the same people twice!). My battered copy of the book with pages falling out and the odd splatter on the page of some spilled ingredient, is testimony to how much I have loved this book.
Great For Simple Supper With Friends
So when I was cooking for friends as a prelude to a meeting just recently, I pulled out the book to thumb through for old favourites and this one popped out. Like most of the Cranks recipes, it is not difficult but it is tasty and filling. I can remember being a bit put off by the fact that it is divided into two parts – the base and the sauce – but there is no need for this to be a concern. The vegetables in the recipe are leeks and tomatoes and since both are in season, this seemed like a good, tasty choice.
I have made a couple of alterations to the original, adapting to what I had available, but mostly I stuck faithfully to the recipe. I would recommend this dish for when you are having friends round, but also as an excellent supper dish on any day. It is low cost and easy to prepare. I served it with baked potatoes and sweetcorn. The potatoes could go in the oven first and then shared the oven with the croustade, making good use of the heat.
I love leeks and you will find a few leek recipes on this website. If you have any great leek recipes, please do share them through the Contact page or in the comments box at the bottom of this article.
For The Base
- 175g / 6oz Fresh breadcrumbs – ideally wholemeal – white bread works too
- 50g / 2oz Butter or margarine
- 125g / 4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
- 125g / 4oz mixed chopped nuts (cheaper to buy some unsalted whole nuts and chop in a food processor)
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
For The Sauce
- 1 large leek, sliced and chopped
- 4-6 tomatoes, chopped
- 50g / 2oz Butter or margarine
- 25g /1oz wholemeal flour
- 280ml milk
- 4 tablespoons fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground black pepper
You also need a large baking dish
- In a large basin, rub the breadcrumbs in the butter
- Stir in the cheese, herbs nuts and garlic
- Grease a baking dish
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the dish
- Bake in the oven at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes until brown
- Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan
- Cook the leeks for 5 minutes, until soft
- Add the flour and stir
- Add the milk, bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring constantly
- Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes
- Season with freshly ground black pepper
- Spoon on top of the base
- Sprinkle with breadcrumbs
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes
- Serve immediately
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