Posts Tagged ‘leek’

Leeks are great. They are the juggernaut warriors of the vegetable world. While their cousins and neighbors run from the cold, the leek is often left in the ground through the winter until needed. Given that they are in the ground longer, leeks sold in winter months are often far larger than summer sold leeks and offer much more value.

Ingredients

  • 1 leek
  • 2 small red potatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2c Ricotta cheese
  • 4oz Spring green mix (or any kind of lettuce you like)
  • 1 small lemon
  • Olive Oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Dice the red potatoes into small cubes and put into a pot of cold water. If you see the water is dirty, rinse and repeat until the potatoes are clean. Set over high heat until boiling. Cook potatoes until tender, but not so much that they break apart. This could take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on how big your pot is and how much water is in it. Best to keep an eye on this periodically while moving on to the next step.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, clean the leek. Only the white and light green parts of the leek are generally eaten. The dark green stalk is quite bitter. To start, cut off the dark green stalk to reveal the light green underneath. I like to cut in an upwards diagonal motion, but do what feels comfortable to you. You can see in the pictures that there is quite a bit of edible stalk that would be lost if you cut the leek at the end of the dark green.

3. Now cut the leek in half lengthwise.  Leave the root end on. When you go to wash the leek, it will help keep everything together. It is important to wash leeks because they grow underground and are subject to lots of dirt particles attaching themselves inside the individual sheaths. Once cut in half, run the leek under running water and brush your fingers in between each wall. A pile of dirt can ruin any meal and you do not want to risk it by skipping this step.

4. Cut the leek into thin strips.

4. By this point, the potatoes should be done. Remove from the heat and drain. Before we go any further, now is the best time to prepare the rest of your ingredients as it will go quickly from here.

  • Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. Pour 3 times as much olive oil as their is lemon juice into the bowl. Add a pinch of sugar and salt. Whisk vigorously until the vinaigrette comes together.

5. Set a large nonstick, oven safe saute pan over medium high heat (a 7 on your dial). Place a couple tablespoons of olive oil and bring up to temperature. Once the oil is hot, place the garlic in the pan and saute until fragrant. Then, add the leeks and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If in doubt, put half the salt you think you should, stir to combine and taste a potato or leek. If it is tasty and not bland, you’ve properly seasoned  your vegetables. Otherwise, add a pinch more and repeat until you are happy.

6. When the leek is translucent (or just looks like the picture above) pour the egg mixture into the pan. Stir to combine ingredients in pan. Mound three scoops of ricotta cheese on top (alternately, you can whisk the cheese and the egg together and pour in all at once).  Stir a few times to combine ingredients. Cook until the egg has began to set on the bottom – 2 minutes max.

7. Place pan in oven for 7 to 10 minutes until the egg has set throughout and the cheese has melted. The edges should be browned and crispy.

8. Toss the spring mix in some of the lemon vinaigrette, and serve alongside a healthy slice of frittata.

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Sweet potatoes were a staple at my grandmother’s Thanksgiving table. They were always mashed and delivered in a large serving bowl. While my aunts and cousins  piled mounds onto their plates, I sat in silent protest. Growing up, I was always afraid to eat them because their bright orange color reminded me of carrots — my culinary arch-nemesis at the time — and I refused to even consider sweet potatoes as edible. It wasn’t until some time later that sweet potato fries were delivered alongside a bacon-cheddar cheeseburger. Much older and not afraid of food anymore, I decided now was as good a time as any. I dipped a fry in ketchup and put it in my mouth. I was in love.

I created this dish because every time I think about making scalloped potatoes, I love the taste, but disagree with the calorie count. This dish is a play on the traditional scalloped potato dish by substituting the cheese sauce with a béchamel (a milk based white sauce) infused with the delightful flavor of leeks. Best of all, this dish is incredibly easy to prepare. I will warn you though, like many good things, some assembly is required.

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 medium leek, dark green stalk cut away (substitute sweet onions if you prefer)
  • 2c low-fat milk
  • 1/4c parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 small bay leaves, or 1 large
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Then start building your dish by making the bechamel sauce. Measure out 2 cups of milk and heat over medium heat ( 7 on your dial) until warm. When you see steam rising, turn the heat off.

2. While the milk is warming, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pan. Cut the leek into thin strips and add to butter. Saute until leeks begin to turn translucent. Add flour to leeks and combine until leeks are coated throughout.

3. Your milk should be warm by this point. Pour milk into a measuring cup or a bowl with a spout for easy pouring. If you try to pour straight from the pan, the milk will dribble down the side of the pan and make a giant mess on your stove. While pouring, whisk milk into leek/flour mixture. Continue whisking over medium heat until sauce thickens to the consistency of oatmeal.

4. Turn heat to simmer (a 2 on your dial). Add bay leaves, stir, and let simmer uncovered for ten minutes.

5. While the sauce is simmering, slice the potatoes about 1/8″. A mandoline is a useful tool in getting uniform cuts. If you don’t have one, take your time to ensure your cuts are as similar as possible because thick cuts will cook slower than thin ones.

Note: Mandolines are relatively safe instruments even if they do look scary. The trick is not to do as the Iron Chefs do. They use their hands or a towel to slide the vegetables towards the blade. I cringe everytime I see this. Use the cutting guide that comes with the mandoline. You’ll protect your hands from the blade and make quick work of the potatoes and anything else you want perfectly uniform slices of in the future.

6. When the sauce is complete, sprinkle nutmeg into the sauce and take off the heat. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

7. Place a layer of sweet potato on the bottom of a square baking dish. Top this with 1/3 of the sauce and then sprinkle with 2 tbsp parmesan cheese. Repeat this process two more times. This is just like building a lasagna. Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese and paprika on top of last layer.

8. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for another 35 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the top has browned. Cook time will vary depending on your oven and how thick your potato layers are.

9. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve alongside a small salad or as a side dish.