Spinach & Black Garlic Croquettes

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La Buenaventura
Boiler House Food Market

These vegan croquettes from the La Buenaventura stall make for a great starter or snack: crispy with a melting centre and incredible depth of flavour. Black garlic is white garlic which has been aged over heat for several weeks, turning the cloves black and soft with a sweet, tart flavour - think balsamic mixed with tamarind. It’s worth making the effort to find - try www.souschef.co.uk if you can’t find it anywhere else. Don’t leave out the nutritional yeast either: it adds a lovely umami flavour sometimes lacking in vegan food, and is a great source of vitamin B12. You can find it in most health food stores.

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 150 g spinach, finely chopped
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves black garlic, sliced
  • 70 g plain flour
  • 500 ml soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½-1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper, to taste

For the Coating

  • 150 g plain flour
  • 150 g breadcrumbs
  • 150 ml soy milk
  • 500 ml vegetable oil, to deep fry

Method

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan, and fry the sliced garlic until transparent. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes until wilted. Drain any excess water and put the spinach to one side.

Put the remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion and black garlic until soft. Stir in the flour and cook until you have a golden roux, and then slowly add the soy milk to the saucepan, mixing it well with the roux. Once all the soy milk is added, bring the pan to a simmer, stirring until you have a thick white sauce. Don’t worry about lumps too much. You can now add the spinach, nutritional yeast, salt and black pepper - mix it well and adjust the seasoning to taste.

With a hand blender, blitz the mixture until smooth, and then cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will know it is ready when the mixture comes off the sides of the pan.

Grease a shallow glass or ceramic dish and pour in the mixture. Cover with cling film, making sure it is in contact with the surface to prevent a crust forming. Leave to cool for a few hours or overnight until the filling is cold and firm.

Once the filling is cold, get three shallow bowls and put the coating flour in one, breadcrumbs in another and soy milk in the third. Take a tablespoon of filling and roll it in the flour, and then shape into an oval croquette between your hands. Dip the croquette into the soy milk and roll it in the breadcrumbs. Repeat the process with the remaining filling and let the finished croquettes sit for 30 minutes before frying.

Heat the oil to 175°C in a deep pan. Fry the croquettes in small batches until golden brown all over (don’t do too many at once or you’ll lower the oil temperature), then drain on kitchen paper and serve, maybe with some La Beunaventura veganaisse.