Friday, 17 February 2012

Leeks Glorious Leeks

We're approaching the end of the season for that luscious member of the allium family, the leek.  When teamed with onion, carrot, parsnip and celery it makes a warming winter soup or combine it with a rich cheese sauce and bake in the oven for a tasty supper or side dish.

With these ideas in mind, yesterday I bought a large bag of smallish leeks.  I find them almost impossible to resist.  At the same time I bought one of the gardening magazines that I enjoy and free with it was a new cooking magazine, Great British Food. 

This magazine was a real bonus, filled with interesting articles as well as recipes.  Many of the recipes were vegetarian which is refreshing and adds to the usual meatfest of most magazines.  I wonder if this will be a regular feature of the publication?

luscious leeks
One of the recipes featured was a Leek and Ricotta Tart.  By chance, or happenstance, I had put a tub of ricotta in my shopping trolley, so guess what we're having for tea tonight.

There was also a recipe for Chocolate and Walnut Brownies which are cooling in the baking tin as we speak - more of these in a later post perhaps.

For now let's focus on the leeks...

rustic tart awaiting baking
Leek and Ricotta Tart
Serves 4
90g butter, cubed
175g plain flour
pinch of salt
3 tbsp cold water

6 small or 4 large leeks, washed and roughly sliced
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
250g tub ricotta
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
3 tbsp raisins, softened in warm water
1 egg
sat and black pepper to taste

Use the first 4 ingredients to make your pastry.  Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Put the leeks into a steamer and steam for 10 minutes.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and leeks and cook for 5 minutes over a medium/low heat.

Meanwhile mix together the ricotta, pine nuts, raisins (without the liquid) and egg in a large bowl then add the cooked leek and garlic and stir through.  Set aside to cool.

Roll out the pastry and fit into a 20cm round baking tin, allowing the pastry to drape over the sides.  Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork and then line with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans.  Bake blind at 190C for 15 minutes.  Remove the pastry case from the oven and lift out the parchment and beans.  Return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes.

If you are cooking immediately, add the leek and ricotta mixture to the pastry case, level the top and return to the oven for another 30 minutes until the tart has risen and is golden.

Should you wish to bake the tart later then allow the pastry case to cool and assemble and bake at 190C as above - I'd only delay baking for a couple of hours.

Serve warm from the oven with saute potatoes and a nice salad.

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