Leek, Savoy & Cheese Pasta, 43p

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.)


  1. jack, what is your opinion on vegetable oil? I’ve always read or been told by health food/fitness things that i’ve read that vegetable oil is ‘bad’ and is the main ingredient in processed food and is a no no no. But i signed up to the ‘change4life’ meal planner thing, and every recipe in it which requires oil, uses vegetable oil. When i did a very strict ‘bootcamp’ type diet all oil was no no no except coconut oil and other such things which i couldnt seem to convince them were very expensive so matter ‘how far’ they stretched. Wasnt exactly doing the £10 a week thing, but whilst on the plan i probably spent twice if not 3 times as much on food stuffs. Is vegetable oil really the DEMONIC oil it’s portrayed to be, or is it not so bad, and the ‘change4life’ and other such recipes use it for cost purposes?

    you read so much about this and that you begin to think that nothing is good for you anymore……

    or feel free to have no opinion! 🙂

    • Well I use it! Not liberally, because oil is oil is oil, but I use veg oil and sunflower oil interchangeably.
      Back in the day when I had a decent disposable income, I used an orange oil that was supposed to be amazing, olive oil and coconut oil. I didn’t really notice any massive health benefits to be honest, and they’re all so expensive.
      I’d say, from my non-expert but head-screwed-on perspective, that a little vegetable oil or sunflower oil in moderation is alright for you. Try to cut down on the amount of oil you use rather than worrying about the type 😉

      • Just wondered on your opinion as there are so many conflicting opinions on almost every food stuff on earth, i found it weird that the ‘change4life’ thing seemed to use it so freely.

        i wonder what the daily mail thinks about that 😛

    • Most vegetable oil in the UK is rapeseed oil whereas in other countries it is palm oil or soyabean oil (which aren’t so good), rapeseed oil is totally fine in moderation, in fact it is very good for you. I use only rapeseed oil, coconut oil (and it isn’t necessary to use the fancy super expensive organic raw stuff, the KTC one is fine and is naturally produced with no additives) and olive oil. I use very little oil at all so one 500ml or litre bottle (or pot) of any type of oil lasts me months and months.

  2. Hi have you tried freezing this? it sounds amazing but we wouldn’t normally have left over cabbage to use and don’t want to buy a whole cabbage for 2 leaves! Only two of us eat solids at the moment…. so would like to try making a big batch and freezing the rest

    Alternatively do you think it would work with something like curly kale?

    Many thanks!

    • I would make the sauce a bit runnier, chop the cabbage a bit finer, and freeze it in ice cube trays? Then pop out and use as you like. Only freeze dairy stuff for about three months, I think I remember reading that somewhere. So in answer to your question, yes! I can give a more detailed answer when I’m not on a train with rubbish signal, but hope this helps. X

      • That’s great thanks! I’ve also been looking through your other recipes and found some that use more cabbage so might have a cabbagey week!

  3. Just a thought, you can get vegan smoked cheese now. One by Bute Island foods which you’ll only find in health food shops, the other being from Tesco’s ‘Free From’ range, believe it or not.

    It’s not cheap, the Tesco one being £2.25 for a 1/2lb block but it seems to last well, is melty and is really very tasty.

    I don’t know how well it would work in a cheese sauce but I do know it’s excellent on pizza!

  4. I wasn’t sure about trying this recipe, having bad childhood memories of savoy cabbage. I’m so glad that I trusted Jack, having loved all her other recipes I’d tried. This totally changed my mind about savoy, it was absolutely delicious. Also, very quick to prepare. That’s one of the things I really like about Jack’s recipes, a lot of them really take very little time, perfect for when I come in from work, absolutely starving.

    When’s the recipe book being published? Will be first in the queue for it!

  5. Did this for me and my husband on sunday – was lovely and very filling! The sauce tastes lovely

  6. Have just tried a version of this for lunch. Just used onion, as no leek. Used some manky posh soft cheese that was in the fridge, plus have a pile of burgers leftover from a WI BBQ, so snipped a bit of a lamb one in. The pasta was the last of a pk of wholemeal penne. Really tasty lunch. Oh and the cabbage was 2 leaves from a HUGE Savoy that was from the cheapy box in the local green grocer and was only 50p (hence looking for recipes that have cabbage in them, found loads of good ones on the Abel & Cole site http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/cabbage )

  7. Right now it seems like Drupal is the preferred blogging platform out there right now.

    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

      • We use a Drupal based content management system for our website at work. its open source so if you built something yourself with it you’d have more control, but unless you want to do something particularly powerful, your time is prob better spent on your lovely blog posts 🙂 if we werent restricted by the software provider giving us the content management system, then we’d be able to do lots of cool things, unfort. its’ all locked down and they have to do it for you! I think it’s based in php, but sounds like orlando knows more than me on that note 🙂

  8. Hi, I do believe your blog might be having internet browser
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  9. Just working our way through your ‘menu’ 🙂 made this tonight and really enjoyed. We increased the amount of pasta and made the sauce runnier as it was a bit dry for our tastes. We also made it with applewood cheese which was in the fridge and added some Bacon. Combine that with home made bread and it was scrummy 🙂 thank you

  10. I have a problem with the recipe – between item 5 and 8 the contents of the saucepan are variously paste, and ultimately boiling water … Does it make sense?

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