Have you ever gone into the supermarket and seen those things that look like giant scallions? Well, that’s a leek. Only this onion on steroids doesn’t taste anything like a scallion, but a refined, subtle, mild, delicate, clean tasting onion. They are fabulous in soups, fish dishes, braised, blanched, poached or in this case made into a gratin.
I happen to love leeks and I try to cook with them as often as possible. I sometimes make pilaf and sauté them in some butter and cook along with the rice… I use them in most of my fish dishes and almost every soup I make… they’re what you call my “go to” onion. But I’ve never really thought of them as something you could eat on their own.
I was trying to come up with a new and exciting way I could spotlight these delicate stalks. I had never made them like this before and I have to tell you this has become one of my new favorite sides! I’m making it a lot!
It’s warm, it’s hearty and it’s so mild it goes with just about everything, especially on these cold winter nights. They are light and savory and really outstanding, if I do say so myself!
Take 15-20 leeks and cut in half, using only the white onion part. Making sure to clean them well under cold water… these are root vegetables and do tend to get dirt inside of them. So just open the layers a bit to get some water in there to flush them out. Discard the green part of the leek.
Place halved leeks in boiling salted water for 8 minutes. Make sure not to overcook the leeks or else they will become mushy. Remove and place into an ovenproof casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick spray.
½ cup flour
3 ½ tablespoons butter (cut in small pieces)
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt & white pepper
1 Cup Grated Gruyere Cheese
This light based roux sauce really adds a creamy-ness to the gratin that can’t be duplicated otherwise.
Put the flour into a medium size pot and gradually add 1/3 cup cold water, to make a paste. In a separate pot, heat 2 cups of water. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour slowly into the paste whisking gently and continuously. Add your salt & white pepper. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for 5-7 more minutes. Do not add the butter until you are just about to pour it over your leeks.
Place cooked leeks into a casserole dish or individual mini casserole dishes. Coat the leeks with the white sauce and sprinkle a bit of grated gruyere cheese on top. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Health Benefits of Leeks:
- Leeks contain a huge amount of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins that are extremely good for us.
- They are low in calories and a great source of fiber.
- They help to reduce cholesterol
- They contain folic acid, which is great if you’re thinking about getting pregnant… niacin, riboflavin and thiamin.
- Leeks are a fantastic source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Vitamin E, which is a known anti-inflammatory.
- They also are full of zinc and iron, which we all know is good for our bones.