Banana blossom, leek and kūmara crustless pie

Recipe from Simple Wholefoods by Sophie Steevens

Photography by Lottie Hedley

“What on earth is banana blossom?” you ask. Don’t worry, I assure you it’s really easy to stumble upon in most supermarkets. Quite similar to jackfruit, banana blossom is a fleshy, purple-skinned flower, which grows at the end of a banana cluster. Traditionally used in South-east Asian and Indian cooking, it’s now widely popular as a vegan substitute for fish, due to its flaky, chunky texture. So here, my friends, is my finger-licking, creamy crustless pie, which also features caramelised leek, fresh rosemary, light spices and chunks of sweet kūmara, all immersed in a rich sunflower, miso sauce and finished with a layer of the parmesan-like cheesy rosemary crumble. The crumble is absolutely divine and also works well sprinkled over pasta, pizzas and salads. Do not put this gloriously cosy winter’s pie in the too-hard basket, it truly is very simple to put together and so delicious. 

Serves 4-6

2 purple kūmara (about 650g), cut into bite-sized cubes 
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil (optional) 
2 large leeks, green ends discarded, whites finely sliced 
1 brown onion, finely sliced 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
200g fresh spinach, roughly chopped (or use baby spinach leaves) 
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped 
1 teaspoon mixed spice 
½ teaspoon sea salt 
2 x 400g cans banana blossom, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped 

Sunflower cream 
1 cup sunflower seeds, presoaked (see note)  
3 tablespoons lemon juice  
1 clove garlic 
¼ cup white miso paste  
1 cup rice milk (or other plant milk) 

Cheesy rosemary crumble 
½ cup raw cashews 
¼ cup sesame seeds 
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 
1 tablespoon white miso paste  
1 teaspoon dried rosemary 

  1. Bring a saucepan half-filled with water to a boil. Place the kūmara in a colander over the water, cover and steam for 15 minutes, or until just tender. 
  1. Heat the oil, if using, in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the leek, onion and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant. Add the spinach, rosemary, mixed spice and salt and continue to cook for a further 1–2 minutes.  
  1. For the sunflower cream, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds, or until smooth and creamy.  
  1. For the cheesy rosemary crumble, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds, or until it’s a fine parmesan-like crumble. 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-bake.  
  1. Transfer the leek mixture to a large bowl along with the banana blossom, kūmara and sunflower cream. Gently mix to combine. Transfer to a deep pie dish and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over the rosemary crumble. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. 

Note: When nuts and seeds are soaked, it decreases the antinutrients (such as phytate or phytic acid) that block our body’s ability to absorb nutrients. To soak, simply place the nuts (or seeds) in a bowl, cover with water and leave for about eight hours. Drain and rinse before using. For a much faster preparation time, add them to a bowl of just-boiled water and soak for about an hour prior to using – this is usually what I do. 

This is an edited extract from Simple Wholefoods by Sophie Steevens, photography by Lottie Hedley (Allen & Unwin NZ, $49.99). 

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