Need a Leek?
The daffodil I can understand, but the leek… Who would want a pungent smelling vegetable as a national symbol?
So the story goes, St David ordered his soldiers to wear the leek in their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons; so it does have it’s place in history.
But, I’m not talking about wearing leeks. When I was younger, my father grew leeks in the garden, lots of leeks; so they featured on our table simply as a boring boiled vegetable. My mother was not an imaginative cook. Don’t get me wrong she cooked well, but plainly.
I hated leeks. I would turn up my nose, gag, threaten to throw up at the table if they appeared on my plate until the beastly things were removed.
I grew up, and now quite enjoy leeks, even raw in a salad.
But I suspect leeks have gone the way of many of the foods and vegetables of yesteryear. People don’t bother much with them any more.
Even as a chef, I found it difficult to imagine leeks in any other form other than boiled.
But, here are some ideas that make the leek interesting.
The 10 best leek recipes for Saint David’s Day
The most versatile member of the onion family, the humble leek can be both a sturdy base or the star of the show, with a robust flavour and great texture
Leek, taleggio and thyme pie
The creamy taleggio and leeks cook down together to form a delicious, gooey filling, and the parsley adds a fresh note.
- 1 large baking potato, cut into slices
- 3 medium leeks, washed and sliced into rounds
- A knob of butter
- Salt and black pepper
- 20ml double cream
- 180g taleggio or similar cheese, cut into chunks
- 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
- 500g all-butter puff pastry, rolled
- 1 egg, for washing
1 Heat an oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Cook the baking potato in boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and set aside.
2 Cook the leeks over a medium heat in the butter until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3 In a bowl, mix the potato flesh with the leeks, cream, taleggio and thyme leaves and season well. Cut the pastry in two and roll out each piece into a 3mm-thick circle. Place one circle on top of a 25cm nonstick pie dish and press into the base – there will be an overhang, which can be trimmed off.
4 Spoon the leek mixture into the prepared dish and place the other pastry disk on top. Crimp around the sides to seal, then brush the top with egg and make an incision in the middle of the lid to let the steam escape while it’s in the oven. Cook the pie for 30‑40 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and crisp. Rest for a few minutes before serving.
Yes, check the Guardian link, there are many more interesting recipes.
You can pickle leeks as well:
- 1 Lb whole fresh leeks (greens included), washed thoroughly and chopped
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 C. rice wine vinegar
- 1 C. water
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Briefly blanch the leeks in salted water. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine all ingredient except the leeks in the saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the leeks to the brine mixture in the pan. Let cool to room temperature and then transfer to a smaller nonreactive container, cover tightly. Place in the refrigerator overnight. You could also can the pickled leeks if desired.
Source: Live in Art
More pickling on: I’ve sprung a leek… a pickled leek