If you’re already thinking about your Christmas starter, then you could do a lot worse than these vegan leek and cheese parcels. Pan-fried leeks with garlic and cheese, wrapped in a crunchy filo pastry parcel and dipped in a luxurious forest fruit dipping sauce. If you’re having family over, then this is guaranteed to impress. Even if you’re not considering it for Christmas, it’ll still make a great canapé for any parties you’re planning.
You can make these a day in advance, just make sure they are tightly covered so that the pastry doesn’t dry out. They take fifteen minutes to cook in the oven, but you do need to keep an eye on them as the ends start to burn very quickly. These parcels might seem complicated to look at, but they’re really not that difficult to make. I would advise being careful when pulling the parcel together, as this can sometimes split the pastry and cause the filling to leak out of the bottom a little. Some of them split while I was making mine, but I carried on regardless and there was no major disaster.
Leek and cheese are just one of endless options to fill these parcels. Replacing the leeks with mushrooms would be a great alternative. You could also switch to more east Asian ingredients and dip them in some tamari with lime juice. Indian style cooking would also suit them quite well, which would be great dipped in homemade mango chutney (you can find a recipe for that in my book Going Vegan). Try this recipe first. Once you’ve got that sorted, you can begin to experiment.
Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: about 40 minutes, plus cooling time.
Makes up to 25.
For the Dipping Sauce:
200g frozen forest fruits
75ml orange juice
1 clove garlic, bashed with the flat of a knife to crush it
½ tsp harissa paste
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
For the Filling:
3 tbsp olive oil
3 small, or 1 ½ -2 large leeks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
150ml plant-based milk
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
220g vegan cheese, cut into small cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Pastry:
1 pack ready-made filo pastry (make sure it’s vegan)
Plant milk for brushing
Oil for brushing
First make the dipping sauce by putting all the ingredients into a saucepan and bringing to the boil. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the sauce easily coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool a little and then pass it through a fine strainer to get a smooth sauce. Set aside until ready to serve.
To make the parcel filling, heat the oil in a frying pan and then sauté the leeks for 8-10 minutes, until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more, then add the milk, mustard and cheese. Stir in and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until you have a thick sauce. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Lay out a single sheet of filo pastry, cut it in half and then half again. This will still be too large, so now fold this piece in half, so that you have a double square sheet of pastry. Brush with a little pant milk and then put about 1 ½ tsp of the filling onto the middle of the pastry (see picture). Bring all the edges of the pastry up around the filling so that they all come together at the top. Do this gently to avoid splitting the pastry at the bottom as best you can. When all the ends are together, give them a slight twist to form a sort of flour shape, then squeeze gently with your fingers in the middle to press it together. The milk should hold it in shape.
Place it on your lined baking sheet and then repeat the process until you have used up either all the pastry or all the filling. The parcels don’t have to be far apart on the tray, but you don’t want them touching. You should get about 25, so you may need to cook them in batches. Gently brush all the parcels with oil.
Place the sheet of parcels in the middle of the oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them towards the end so that the tips of the pastry don’t burn too much. A little colour is good though.
Serve hot or cold with the dipping sauce.