A simple vegetarian supper for two which can also be served as a side from Gill Meller.
- 100 ml medium dry cider or water
- 100 g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4-5 large leeks trimmed, cut into 1cm-thick rounds and washed
- 40 g plain flour
- 2 leaves sprigs fresh thyme picked
- 300 ml hot vegetable stock
- 150 ml double cream
- 1 tsp dijon or wholegrain mustard
- 100 g blue cheese crumbled, whatever your favourite is
- salt and black pepper
- 1 handful coarse white breadcrumbs
- 20 g shelled walnuts bashed
- 20 g porridge oats
- 25 g cheddar finely grated
- Heat a large, heavy-based pan for which you have a lid over a medium heat. Add half the butter, half the olive oil and the cider and, when it’s bubbling away, add the leeks.
- Season well, then give the leeks a good shake, pop on the lid, reduce the heat and cook for eight to 10 minutes, until tender. You may need to stir them once or twice as they cook.
- Tip the leeks and all their poaching juices into a bowl, then return the pan to a medium heat and add the remaining butter. When it’s bubbling, add the flour, stir well and cook for a minute.
- Now add the hot stock, thyme, cream and mustard, bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce is nice and thick. Fold in the leeks, their poaching liquid and the blue cheese, season to taste, then turn off the heat.
- Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Pour the gratin filling into a suitably sized oven-proof dish and level it off. Combine the breadcrumbs, porridge oats, broken walnuts and cheddar in a bowl with the remaining olive oil, then scatter over the top of the leeks.
- Bake the gratin for 20 minutes, until the top is golden and deliciously tempting. Leave to stand for five to 10 minutes before serving.
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