Leeks are a favored vegetable in my kitchen. Their delicate onion-like taste lends a subtle flavor to so many dishes: soups, quiches, savory pies, salads…they have been used for millennia by chefs of distinction and humble home cooks alike. In fact, archaeologists have come across dried bits of leeks – along with drawings and wall carvings – in the ruins of Ancient Egypt!
This warm salad is lovely on a not-so-warm summer evening. It is delicious with a crusty loaf and a glass of white wine.
Warm Summer Salad
– 4 leeks, cleaned and sliced into bite-sized pieces
– 1 Tbs olive oil
– 2 red peppers, diced
– 1 medium Bermuda or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
– 2 cups cooked chickpeas
– 8 small red potatoes, scrubbed and boiled
– Vinaigrette dressing
– Sauté the leeks and red peppers in olive oil until tender.
– Dice the boiled potatoes and stir in, then add the chick peas.
– Remove from heat into a serving dish, add the onions and gently toss with vinaigrette dressing.
– OPTIONAL: cherry or grape tomatoes would be a lovely addition to this dish!
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
– 1 Tsp lemon juice
– 1 clove garlic, finely minced
– 1 Tsp Dijon mustard
– Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper
– Combine all in covered jar or bottle and shake well to mix. I prefer to make this at least a few hours ahead and let the flavors marry before serving.
Many think of soups when they see a leek – and there are so many soup recipes from so many cultures. This recipe is rich and luscious and warming- just the thing for a chilly fall evening!
Creamed Leek Soup
– 12 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced thinly (use white section only)
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 4 Tbs butter, cubed
– 4 Tbs all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
– 1 1/2 cups milk
– 1 cup half-and-half cream
– Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
– Optional garnishes: minced chives, crumbled well-cooked bacon
– Sauté the leeks and garlic in butter until they are tender. Stir in the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Keep stirring and cook until well combined and there is no “raw flour” taste (you are essentially making a savory roux).
– Slowly stir in the chicken broth and then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.
– Allow the soup to cool slightly, and then carefully use an inversion blender to “cream” the leeks (alternately, you can carefully pour small amounts – no more than half the pitcher size at a time – into a blender and process).
– Pour in the milk and cream and gently return to simmer until heated through.
A traditional Scottish dish, dating a least back to the 16th century, Cock-a-leekie soup is a simple and delicious classic soup. My Scots friends tell me that the “extra” chicken is served as a second course, with mashed potatoes and a hot mustard sauce.
– 1 4lb fresh, whole chicken (parts will also work well)
– A bouquet garni (bay leaf, parsley and thyme are classic)
– 16-20 medium-size leeks, cleaned and sliced into bite-size lengths
– 8 oz white rice
– 6-8 medium-size carrots, peeled and minced
– Salt and crushed black pepper to taste
– Optional: to be very traditional, include 4 oz cooked and stoned prunes to the broth
– Optional garnish: crumbled well-cooked bacon
– Place the chicken and 6 of the sliced leeks into a stockpot or soup kettle and cover with water to more than cover. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for about an hour. The chicken should be cooked and falling off the bone.
– Remove the chicken from the stockpot and put aside to cool. Strain the stock into a fresh pot (or strain stock into a large bowl, clean the pot and carefully pour the stock back in)
– Add the rice and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the minced carrots, the prunes (if you are being traditional!) and the remainder of the chopped leeks and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes.
– Check for flavor and, if needed, simmer further to reduce the stock and increase the savor. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
– Chop half of the chicken and add to the finished soup. The other half may be served as a separate course or kept for use in another dish. Personally, I use it for a savory pie.
Of course, no leek recipe collection would be complete without the classic Vichyssoise! Serve with a salad of bitter greens and vinaigrette.
– 4-5 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced into bite-size lengths
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 Tablespoon butter
– 2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced, held in 4 cups water
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 2 cups milk
– 2 cups light cream
– 1 cup heavy cream
– White pepper to taste
– Optional garnish: thinly sliced chives
– Sauté the leeks and onion in butter until they are tender. Add the potatoes and water and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are soft and easy break when pierced with a fork.
– Add salt, milk and light cream and bring the soup to a light boil, stirring constantly.
– Allow the soup to cool slightly, and then carefully use an inversion blender to “cream” the leeks and potatoes (alternately, you can carefully pour small amounts – no more than half the pitcher size at a time – into a blender and process).
– OPTIONAL: some prefer to sieve the soup at this point for additional refinement of texture. I do not.
– Stir in the cream and white pepper. Chill and serve.
Leeks are the national symbol of Wales – and the Welsh have an extensive repertoire of leek dishes. In addition to starring roles in pies and pasties and savory puddings, they are a key ingredient in Cawl (the national dish of Wales). The filling of this savory pie is similar in some respects to that of a quiche. For fun, try substituting Y Fenni or Red Dragon for the goat cheese!
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 Tbs butter
– 3-4 large leeks, sliced thin
– 4-5 slices bacon, finely chopped
– 2 eggs
– 1 pint heavy cream
– 2 Tbs prepared mustard
– 6 oz goat cheese (preferably Welsh!)
– Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
– Shortcrust pastry pie shell (or cheat and use a good brand of prepared pie crust)
– Preheat your oven to 400F. Bake the pie shell for 15 minutes, and then remove from heat.
– In a heavy skillet, sauté the leeks and bacon in the olive oil and butter until the leeks are tender and the bacon is almost crisp.
– In a bowl, beat the eggs with the cream. Add salt, pepper and mustard.
– Gently spoon the leek and bacon mixture into the pie shell. Then layer the goat cheese (broken into small pieces). Finally, pour the egg mixture on.
– Bake 30-40 minutes, until filling is set and top is browned. Serve with a lightly dressed salad.