I’ve been walking past these leeks every day watching them grow. I thought they were spring onions up until a few days ago when they became definite leeks.
I use leeks a lot for cooking. I like their sweet mellow oniony flavour and they are also quicker and easier to peel and chop than a normal onion. You have to be careful to rinse them thoroughly before you chop them though. They hide a lot of grit in between the layers that could ruin a lovely dish.
Although I use them often it is always in a supporting role. I wanted a dish where they could be the star of the show, come out from the background and impress all by themselves. This is a recipe for Flamiche. A classic northern French tart where the white parts of the leeks are softened slowly in butter until sweet then mixed with cream and egg yolks and baked in a pastry case. It is a simple recipe with very few ingredients and that is how it should be. I couldn’t resist topping it with some grated Gruyère for the last 5 minutes of cooking, but if you want you be a purist about it leave it out.
I used wholemeal flour and vegetable suet to make my pastry but you can make your own version of short crust pastry or buy a prepared pastry case if you want to make life easier.
Flamiche – Wholemeal Leek & Gruyère Quiche
Serves 6, makes a 9 inch Quiche, vegetarian. Adapted from The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis
- 120 gr self-raising wholemeal flour
- 60 gr vegetable suet (I use Atora)
- salt & pepper
- iced water
- 6 or 7 large leeks
- 90 gr unsalted butter
- 150 – 300 ml cream (I used creme fraiche)
- 3 egg yolks
- salt & black pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- a handful of grated Gruyère
To make the pastry, mix together the flour and suet and season with salt & pepper. Pour in about 3 tbsp iced water and stir to combine. Keep adding water a tbsp at a time until the mixture comes together and stays in a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge while you make the filling.
Chop the dark green parts and the hairy ends off the leeks and remove the outer layer(you can use them to make your own veg stock if you want). Slice the leeks in half lengthways and rinse well under the tap to get rid of any grit between the layers. Slice into about 1cm half moons. Heat the butter over a medium low heat in a large pan. When the butter has melted add the leeks and a good pinch of salt and allow them to sweat slowly until they are completely softened, about 15 minutes. Leave to cool.
Butter and flour your tart tin. Remove the pastry from the fridge, flour your work-surface, rolling-pin and pastry and roll it out, making quarter turns to keep it even and stop it sticking. When it looks big enough to fill the tin (it should be about 3mm thick), lift it up by rolling it over your rolling-pin and lay it gently over the tart tin. Push it into the tin (don’t stretch it out) and cut off any large overhanging bits but don’t trim it completely. Put it in the fridge while you finish the filling.
Preheat the oven to 180 C. When the leeks have cooled, whisk together the cream (the amount you use will depend on the depth of your tart tin, do it by eye) and egg yolks and season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg. Stir this into the leeks. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the leek mixture evenly over the base. Cook for 35 minutes until just barely set then sprinkle over the grated Gruyère, if using, and give it another 5 minutes for the cheese to melt & brown slightly. Leave for at least 10 minutes before serving and trim off the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife.
This is best served warm, not hot, to really appreciate the flavour of the leeks. In my opinion it is even better served the next day at room temperature (Not cold just out of the fridge). It is perfect picnic food or for a spring buffet even if you’re feeling brave about the weather.
Serve it with a peppery green salad, rocket & watercress would be good, dressed with olive oil & lemon juice for a spring time lunch alfresco…..