"It's not like we're trying, but we've struggled to find anyone who doesn't love this dish. The cream sauce, the kale, the garlic breadcrumbs on top ... It's literally the most perfect creamy casserole-style dish that will inspire second and third helpings." ~ Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse.
500mL (2 cups) soy milk
250mL (1 cup) vegetable stock
1/2 onion, peeled and halved
3 garlic cloves, 1 smashed, 2 crushed
Pinch of fennel seeds
2 fresh bay leaves
Pinch of whole black peppercorns
Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley, reserving the stalks for the stock
4 large leeks, cut in half lengthways and sliced into 1 cm pieces, reserving the dark green ends for the stock
80g butter, plus extra for greasing
Olive oil, for frying
1 large bunch kale, leaves stripped and roughly torn
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
35g plain (all-purpose) flour
120g shredded (vegan/ vegetarian friendly) cheese
1 Tbs dijon mustard
Pour the soy milk and stock in a medium-sized saucepan and add the onion, smashed garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley stalks and green leek ends. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the leftover ingredients.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and a glug of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped leek with a pinch of salt and cook until soft but not coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside in a small bowl.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and throw in a large pinch of salt.
Drop in the kale leaves and boil for 3–4 minutes or until the leaves have begun to soften but still have their bright green colour. Drain and refresh under cold running water until the leaves are cool. This will stop the cooking process.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease four individual or one large ovenproof dish with a little butter.
Heat the remaining butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat until melted. Add half of the crushed garlic and the thyme and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the flour. Stir well to combine and cook until it becomes a thick paste. Cook over low heat for about 1 minute to cook out the raw flour, then slowly add the strained infused soy milk, stirring constantly to keep the sauce smooth. Add the shredded cheese and mustard and continue to stir over a low heat until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Either tear the bread into small pieces or pulse in a food processor until you have chunky breadcrumbs. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a big glug of olive oil. Add the remaining crushed garlic, the chopped parsley and the breadcrumbs along with a pinch of salt and toss well to coat in the oil. Cook over medium heat tossing often until the breadcrumbs are just beginning to turn a light golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Add the kale and leeks to the sauce and stir until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared ovenproof dishes and top with the garlicky breadcrumbs.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (that happens to be vegan) by Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $48.00.