I really enjoy visiting farmers’ markets for the pretty visuals of fresh greens, fruits, and veggies arranged neatly on display. If an item looks particularly enticing, I might be swayed to buy it, even if I didn’t come to the market with it in mind.
That’s what happened the first time I bought leeks. I‘m not sure how often I had leeks in the past, if ever. I don’t think my mom cooked with them very often, so I was going out on a limb when I bought them, because I didn’t have an idea of what I could make with them. But, they looked so pretty, I couldn’t resist.
Even better, once I got them home and cut them up, the slices were such a pretty light green- my favorite color! I love pretty food 🙂
To use up the leeks, I had looked up recipes and found that many leek recipes are for leek tarts/quiches. Since I know that quiches are very adaptable to what ingredients you have on hand, it was the perfect dish for me to make.
I started with washing the leeks and cutting them up. You can work up the stems starting at the bottom (the white roots) and cutting up until you reach the boundary of the light and dark green. (You can discard the dark green pieces or save them for stock.) Some of the larger slices I cut in half, and the smaller slices I left as full circles. To get rid of the inevitable dirt and sand which is found in between the layers of the leeks, I rinsed the slices in my colander and then let them drain.
To make the pastry crust for the quiche, I used not quite a full stick (~7 tablespoons) of cold butter, cut into small slices, and mixed it in (with either 2 knives or my new potato masher) to 1 and ¼ cups of flour, to which I added about ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of sugar. I mixed the butter in until the flour came together in small crumbles. To hold the dough together, I added cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough just came together to form a ball. You’ll want to chill the dough for at least an hour before you roll it out. You can also refrigerate it overnight if you’re not going to use it right away. As you roll out the dough, check to make sure it will be just a bit larger than your pie pan, so that you’ll have a slight overhang to make the crust edge. You can also trim the sides if there’s too much overhang. To easily get the dough into the pie pan, I like to roll the dough over my rolling pan and slowly unroll it in the pan. I’ve also seen a technique where you fold the dough into four quadrants, starting by folding in half and then in half again in the other direction, like a piece of paper. You then place the dough in the pan and unfold it.
To make the quiche/tart filling, I used 5 whole eggs, ½ cup of milk, ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese, and 3 pinches of paprika. I mixed until well combined and then added the leek slices. I poured the egg mixture into the tart crust, added a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese on top, and slid the tart into the 350 degree F oven for 21 minutes (depending on your oven, it may be anywhere from 20-25 minutes). When I pulled the tart out of the oven, it was just cooked through, so the center was still a bit soft, leaving the eggs nice and creamy (the cheese helped make it creamy, too). The crust was lightly golden, and when we ate it, we thought it was light and not too flaky or too buttery. L. Smith and I really enjoyed this quiche, and we’ll definitely make it again. Some good mix-ins to try would be: bacon, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and/or tomatoes (sun-dried or fresh). I hope you try a leek tart the next time you see some leeks at the farmers’ market. Enjoy!