Hugs for cockles

At the end of a cold day, I adore recipes that can be served in a bowl, enjoyed from a comforting corner of my couch and eaten with the simplicity of a spoon.

This kind of hearty food not only warms, but also hugs your cockles, it soothes away the day and leaves you feeling replete and nourished. This baked casserole is nostalgic of many things, the pot pie Tanya and I would eat at Butlers, the vegetable and cheese sauce bake from my childhood and the depth of flavour from leeks in a soup. Yet, it is none of those things.

This casserole is one of my rare moments where a first stab at a healthy makeover doesn’t completely backfire. It’s easily made friendly for vegans by omitting the chicken and using puy lentils and perhaps trying out nutritional yeast in place of Parmesan. I love eating this on it’s own, but the hubby loves to have a crusty bread roll on standby to gather some of that renegade liquid every now and again.

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Serves 4-6

1tbsp coconut oil
2 leeks, with the green part removed and finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips (or if you are making a vegan version use 11/2 cups of slightly puy lentils*)
1tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp black pepper
A little ground Himalayan salt
Pinch of red chilli flakes
3 cups of mushrooms
1 and 3/4 cups of sweetcorn
One broccoli crown, cut into florets
1 can of coconut milk
1tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use Go Bio Organic)
1/2 cup of quinoa flakes
1tbsp Parmesan (I actually found some made with flaxseed oil, if you can get that amazing otherwise don’t worry)

*If you are using puy lentils, bring to a boil and simmer until they are slightly undercooked. Use them in place of the chicken below.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the Parmesan and quinoa flakes together and set aside.

Heat oil on a medium heat in a pan, once the oil is ready, throw the leeks and garlic in. Sauté until leeks have softened.

Add chicken (or lentils), mushrooms, herbs, nutmeg, pepper, salt and chilli flakes and sauté until the mushrooms begin to sweat.

Add the sweet corn, broccoli, coconut milk, and nutritional yeast and crumble the stock cube into the pan. Bring contents to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid has thickened slightly.

Pour the casserole mixture into a dish and top with the quinoa and Parmesan mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is bubbling.

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2 thoughts on “Hugs for cockles

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