If you’re a fan of leeks or not quite sure about their flavour, these recipes will help you make something tasty with the adaptable ingredient.
With their mild, onion-like taste and versatility when it comes to an array of soups, stews, breads and other dishes, leeks can be used to add a bit of crunch and flavour to so many things.
If you aren’t quite a fan of their taste, or you have some leftover and don’t know how to use them, then these recipes below may come in handy.
For more inspiration, take a look at the previous recipes in this series by clicking here.
Leek chestnut twist
- 400g celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
- 10 shallots
- 1 whole leek – whites and green leaves
- 3 apples
- 4 slices bread, crusts removed
- 1½ tbsp fresh sage leaves
- ½ tbsp fresh rosemary
- 7-8 chestnuts
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- Plain flour for rolling
- 20ml agave
- 20ml rapeseed oil
- Rosemary sprigs and dried cranberries to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Place the chopped celeriac in a bowl and drizzle with oil. Toss through the oil until each piece is lightly coated.
- Place the celeriac on a baking tray and bake in the oven until tender, about 20 minutes
- On a separate baking tray place the shallots and drizzle with oil.
- Slice the leek lengthways and lay facing up on the same baking tray as the shallots. Drizzle with oil. Place tray in the oven and bake both the shallots and leek until lightly caramelised, about 15 minutes.
- Peel the apples, remove the core and thinly slice. Boil sliced apples in water until tender, drain well, then mash into a puree. Set aside.
- Remove the celeriac, leeks and shallots from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Add to a food processor or blender and pulse until a roughly textured puree.
- Break up the sliced bread roughly and add to the puree mix. Pulse a few times until the bread is mixed through. Add the apple puree and pulse 1-2 times.
- Add the chopped chestnuts, sage, rosemary and salt and pulse 1-2 times until mixed through. Remove and add this mixture to a bowl, ready to use to fill the pastry.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay out your pastry sheets next to each other on the tray. Cut into 4, so they are equal lengths and widths.
- Starting 1cm in from the edge of each pastry sheet, add the filling mixture along the length of the pastry with a spoon, making sure to leave 1cm gap at all ends.
- Being very careful not to tear the pastry, gently but tightly roll each pastry sheet with filling into a long sausage-shaped strand. Pinch each of the ends and edges to secure the filling, so that the filling does not fall apart when baking.
- Now begin to plait your pastry. To start, secure all 4 sausage-shaped strands together at the top, by pinching the dough so they stick together.
- Starting from left to right start overlapping the strands in a plait, and then left to right. Secure at the end by pinching together and overlapping the strands and tucking them under each other to secure.
- Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm up. Can be made up to this point a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge.
- Once the plaited pastry is chilled, heat the oven to 180C.
- Mix the agave with the oil and brush all over the pastry, to prevent it from getting too dry, and also to help give the pastry a nice golden colour. Bake for 40-45 mins until golden brown.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter and decorate with fresh herbs and dried cranberries if you wish.
Leek “cannelloni” gratin with chicken, apple and Caerphilly cheese sauce
For the “cannelloni” filling:
- 6-8 leek “cannelloni tubes”, made from the white part of the leek
- 300g chicken (breast, leg or thigh), minced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp apple puree
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1 tbsp breadcrumbs, plus 2 tbsp more for the gratin topping
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
For the Caerphilly cheese sauce:
- 200ml double cream, mixed with 50ml cold water
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 25g margarine or butter
- 50g grated Caerphilly cheese
- For the “cannelloni”: In a food processor combine the onion, garlic, minced chicken and apple puree and blend to combine.
- Add the fresh parsley and thyme, 1 tbsp breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and blend to combine. Remove from the blender and place in a bowl.
- To fill the leek “cannelloni tubes”, take a teaspoon at a time of the chicken filling mix and gently insert into the tube, making sure not to tear them. Fill to halfway, then turn over and fill from the other end, until the entire tube is filled. Be sure not to overfill, so make sure no filling protrudes beyond the edge of the tube.
- Lay each filled tube horizontally inside a baking dish, with the sides of each tube touching.
- Now make the cheese sauce (see below).
- Once you have made the cheese sauce, pour it over the filled “cannelloni tubes” in the baking dish, covering them completely.
- Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the cheese sauce.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.
- For the Caerphilly cheese sauce: Mix the double cream and water in a jug. Melt the margarine or butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Remove from the heat, add the flour and stir quickly to combine, making sure there are no lumps.
- Return the saucepan to the low heat, and slowly pour the cream/water mixture while stirring quickly and continuously. You want to make sure that no lumps form. If lumps do form, remove the saucepan from the heat temporarily and stir through quickly to remove the lumps. Once the sauce is smooth again, you can return the saucepan to the low heat.
- Continue to heat the sauce, stirring continuously, until it starts to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese and stir quickly until the cheese is melted and you have a lovely silky smooth sauce.
Leek, lamb and nigella seed casserole
- 1.1kg boned lamb shoulder, diced into 2-inch pieces
- 400-450g leeks, trimmed and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 heaped tbsp nigella seeds
- 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 500ml chicken or lamb stock
- Large handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/315F/Gas Mark 2.5.
- Heat a little oil in a large casserole pan and brown the diced lamb in batches, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Make sure you brown the pieces on all sides, to give plenty of flavour, adding more oil as needed. Keep to one side.
- Once all of the lamb is browned, add the sliced leeks to the same pan and cook for 2-3 minutes over a moderate heat, stirring. Add the garlic and nigella seeds and turn the heat down, to cook the leeks as gently as possible. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes, being careful not to let the leeks stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Return the lamb to the pan along with the wholegrain mustard, parsley and stock. Stir well, season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Return the lid to the pot and place in the centre of the oven for 1½ hours.
- At this point, taste the casserole, checking if the lamb is tender. If not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Finally, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Serve with mashed or new potatoes.
Recipes courtesy of the Leek Growers’ Association.
Read more in this series…