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Leek wantons small

Leek wantons with cauliflower: Celebrating in-season British leeks

With the number of vegans in the UK set to hit over 2 million by the end of 2020, demand for inspiring, seasonal, but cost effective vegan recipes is rising too. With leeks now at the peak of their season, the British Leek Growers Association has teamed up with vegan chef and nutritionist Julie Cleijne of Sustainable Food Consultants, to create a suite of delicious, new vegan recipes with leeks at their heart.

The newly created vegan recipes all feature British Leeks and range from store cupboard staples to celebratory indulgences.

Julie Cleijne says: “British leeks are one of the Country’s most nutritious and yet under used and appreciated vegetables…until now. If there has been one silver lining to the pandemic, it has been to bring these nutritious, delicious and versatile vegetables centre stage and we’ve seen sales of leeks jump by 15.6% this year.

As one of the few indigenous British vegetables to be ‘in season’ throughout the winter months we really should be eating more of them, to reduce air miles, boost immunity and save the pennies. The recipes I’ve created are not only strong on flavour, they’re easy on the pocket too with the cost per serving from as little at 48p.

Leek wantons small


For the cauliflower ‘rice’:

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

2 tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

½ head of cauliflower, grated to a fine ‘rice’ like texture – (keep the leaves for a pesto)

½ tsp oregano

¼ tsp sea salt

For the leek wanton wrappers:

10 leek leaves – dark green part

1 – 2 leek lengths of the white part, cut in half and laid flat

Water for blanching



Gently heat the oil in a fry pan and fry the crushed garlic over medium to low heat, until translucent


Add the paprika and cayenne pepper to the saucepan and fry for 1 minute, to release the spices.


Add the grated cauliflower and fry over medium heat, stirring to combine with the spices. Approximately 1-2 minutes is enough. You want to make sure that the cauliflower does not become too dry.



Add the oregano, and sea salt and stir through. Set aside to cool whilst you make the wanton wrappers.


You want to make sure that you separate the leek leaves so that they can be laid flat, and cut into a square, so you need to ensure each leaf still has a ‘spine’. To do this, cut lengthways down the centre of the leek leaves, on one side only, along the entire length.


Gently separate the leek leaves, and lay them as flat as possible. They will still be slightly rigid, which is okay at this point.


Trim off any rough edges of the leaves, and discard.


Cut the leaves into squares, approximately 8cm square.


Prepare 2 saucepans with cold water, approximately 4 cm height of water in each.


Boil the water in only one of the saucepans, leaving the other water cold.


Once the water has boiled in the one saucepan, reduce the heat to a very low simmer.


You will now very quickly blanche each square of leek leaf in the simmering water, to make them pliable enough to form into a wanton.  This will take only 3-4 seconds. To do this, take 2 leek leaf squares at a time and plunge them in the boiling water for 3 seconds. Then immediately plunge them in the saucepan of cold water. Then place each on a dry board to dry out.


Take a cloth and gently blot the excess water from the leek leaf squares.


Repeat until all squares have been blanched. They are now pliable enough to form wantons.


Once you have removed the excess water from the wanton wrappers you are ready to cut the ties from the white part of the leek.


Cutting horizontally down the white part of leek, cut a thin ribbon approx. ½ cm wide. Cut the ribbon the full length of the leek. Repeat until you have enough ribbons for each of the leek leaf squares, with 1-2 extra spare, to account for any possible breakages. You want to make sure each ribbon is about 15 – 20 cm in length, and as long as possible.


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius


With each leek leaf square lying flat on a board, ensure each is laid out like a diamond shape.  Work with each individually, and take a toothpick and gently poke a small hole in the leek leaf in diagonally opposite corners of the square.


Take a leek ‘ribbon’ and thread it through the right hand hole in the leek square first, towards the left hand hole. Thread it through the left hand hole, and make sure the ends of the ribbon are protruding evenly on each side.


Now you can fill the leek leaf wanton wrapper. Using a teaspoon, take a teaspoon of your filling and place it in the centre of the leek leaf.


Take the ribbon on either side of the filled leek leaf wanton wrapper and gently pull them together and tie in a single knot, then a double knot.


Trim the excess ribbon with some scissors, so that only approximately 1-1.5 cm ends remain.


Place the wantons on a lined baking tray and bake in the pre-heated oven, just until the leek leaf wanton is tender, approximately 6-8 minutes.


Remove and serve – serving suggestions: serve on a bed of salad, couscous or pearl barley, with some fresh herbs and fresh vinaigrette.


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JVS: Jewish - Vegan - Sustainable
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