Last week my friend K. let me know that she had a large crop of leeks she needed to harvest to make room for summer plants. Not once but twice I went to her back yard and got a bunch. If you aren’t familiar with this vegetable, you won’t know what a treasure had been bestowed on me. K. says that when she cooks leeks it makes the house smell like a French restaurant. They are in the allium family, but have their own distinctive flavor, not like onions or garlic or anything else.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Leeks need some prep work before you can fully enjoy them.There was my bundle of leeks (the second batch, as I’d neglected to do any documentation of the first) on the back step. These were mostly smaller in diameter than the ones I see in the store, but contrary to the resemblance, they don’t taste like a large scallion, either. And they are dirtier than other members of their family. The next photo was taken a couple of days later, after I took them out of the refrigerator and sliced them lengthwise for cleaning.
I accidentally deleted the picture of leeks in my sink, but I think you can imagine it.
This second picture shows how the leeks turn more of an olive green color after cooking. At this point they are ready to eat as a side dish just the way they are. The first night I made crostini and we spread the toasts with goat cheese and piled the confit on top. That was my favorite. Since then I have also served them alongside or in eggs or as a vegetable dish next to–anything!
The author of the recipe said that the confit will keep for a week in the refrigerator, so I have been hoarding the last bit of my second batch to savor some morning on my eggs or toast. If I get a windfall of leeks again I think this confit would be a good way to freeze any excess.
And after reading pages of recipes for leek tart or quiche, I added some of the confit to whatever typical quiche ingredients I could find in my refrigerator and came up with the following:
2 cups Leek Confit (recipe above)
I’d like to try more variations on Leek Tart–perhaps something that is not so eggy. But I think it would be hard to go wrong with leeks. Their irresistible flavor almost guarantees success, at least in my house.
Here I’d like to give you my favorite pie crust recipe, since I’ve been blogging about pies lately. For most of my life I used the basic pie crust recipe from Joy of Cooking, until a few years ago I discovered Mark Bittman’s wonderful recipe in How to Cook Everything. It is my new standard never-fail basic, and he gives variations for different size pie pans, single and double crusts, and so on. His was my basic, but I have already altered this recipe to make it less salty. He is assuming salted butter, by the way. I am only giving you the ingredients list here, because I can’t imagine using printed directions to make pie crust, and I didn’t write his down. If you don’t know how, find a real person to teach you while standing next to you.