Baked Leeks with Tarragon Crumble

In the spirit of meat free week, this is one of my favourite recipes from my book, Take One Veg. No farmyard animals in sight. 

It's a quick recipe that gives the crumble, our English national treasure, a savoury slant. Leeks, mustard and white sauce form a moreish base and a herby, cheesy crumble sits on top catching the escaping juices.

Serves 4 – Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

4 leeks, cut into 1–2cm rounds
a thick slice of butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
200ml hot vegetable stock
200ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the crumble:
150g butter, softened
300g plain flour
2 tablespoons roughly chopped tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
80g grated Cheddar cheese
1.5-litre ovenproof dish

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Put the leeks in a large pan with the butter. Cover and gently sweat the leeks over a medium low heat for 10–12 minutes, until they have softened and cooked through but not coloured. Stir occasionally to prevent the leeks catching on the bottom of the pan.

2) Add the plain flour to the leeks and stir it through until it has all but disappeared. Pour in the stock, milk and mustard, season and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

3) Empty the creamy leeks into a 1.5-litre ovenproof dish. Set aside to cool a little.

4) To make the crumble, rub the softened butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs – your hands are the best tool for this job. Add the tarragon, mustard powder and grated Cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly, creating small clusters of crumble mix. Use your hands to clump the mixture together a little, 
adding a few drops of water if needed. Liberally sprinkle the crumble on top of the creamy leek mix and press down gently.

5) Bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and the leeks are bubbling up from the bottom.

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