Well, Lent is over and save a few hiccups, accidental and weakness, I managed to add quite a lot to my vegan recipe repertoire over the past month and a half.
However, a week ago when I was clearing out my fridge, I came across a piece of smoked cheese i’d bought from the reduced counter at my local supermarket a long time ago. I’ve been in this game too long to throw it away, so I thought I would make something out of it.
The result, is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. This didn’t even make it to my dining table – I stood and scoffed it in the kitchen, and had to be very disciplined about the second portion, which is tomorrows lunch!
I have made vegan alterations below for my vegan readers, and those that don’t have teasing, tempting cheeses loitering in their fridges…
Ingredients, Serves Two at 43p each*.
100g leeks, 25p (£2.50/kg loose)
2 Savoy cabbage leaves, 8p (80p/cabbage)
100g pasta, 8p (39p/500g)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves each)
1 onion, 5p (from a 1.25kg veg pack, £1)
Tablespoon of flour, 1p (65p/1.5kg)
15ml tablespoon of vegetable oil, 2p (£4.50/3l)
100ml soya milk, 6p (59p/1l, Unsweetened Soya Drink)
30g Smoked cheese, 23p (75p/100g)
1. Firstly, put the pasta water on to boil at the back of the stove.
2. Add a little oil to a saucepan. Finely chop the leek, peel and crush or finely chop the garlic, and finely chop the onion. Add to the pan on a low heat.
3. Cut the thick stems away from the middle of the cabbage, shred finely, and add to the pan.
4. When the vegetables have softened, tip into a bowl to one side and reserve.
5. Using the same saucepan, add a little extra oil, and the flour. Stir together quickly to make a paste.
6. Add a little soya milk (or ordinary milk, I used soya as I never have cows milk in the fridge these days) and stir constantly to make a smooth sauce. Use a wooden spoon or a fork to mix. Keep adding until you have a sauce of medium thickness.
7. Chop the smoked cheese into cubes; the rind is edible, so you can throw that in, or discard it if you wish. Add the vegetables back to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted.
8. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the now-boiling water and cook for a few minutes until soft.
9. Drain the pasta, and serve with the sauce on top. Enjoy!
To make it vegan, omit the smoked cheese. Instead, add the vegetables to the white sauce with a splash of lemon and a pinch of nutmeg, and allow to cook for longer on a lower heat to infuse the flavours together.
If you’re a carnivore, this would be delicious with some cubes of bacon cooked in with the vegetables at the beginning.
Also going to try to make a beetroot and balsamic dip/chutney/accompaniment for this at some point in the future…
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)