Monday, January 14, 2013
The holidays are over and I have a declaration: It's leek week (in my apartment)! Did you know that there are tons of ways to prepare leeks that are really tasty? Do you even know what leeks are? Do you care?
Botanically, leeks are part of the Allium genus along with onions, shallots and garlic, though they are much milder in taste. They are the source of many health benefits much like their vegetable cousins. Leeks contain an important concentration of B vitamin folate, which aids in supporting our cardiovascular system. They are also also are a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin K, and are a very good source of vitamin A. Forget your Wheaties, kids. Eat your leeks!
Since it's winter and peeps are more inclined to roast meats, make comfort food, and sit in front of a fireplace, I suggest making a leek gratin as the perfect side dish. Yes, you might be burying the health benefits under a blanket of cholesterol, but this is a super delicious way to serve them to anyone who has never tried them. Cheese and cream? Trust. (My next recipe will be lo-cal. I promise.)
4 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, roots trimmed
1 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Halve the leeks lengthwise, leaving halves attached at root, and rinse well, shaking off excess water. (See photo below.)
2. In a large skillet, combine the cream and leeks and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the leeks and sauce to a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
3. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let gratin rest 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
(And here is a handy guide to properly clean leeks.)