Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leek Gratin

Leeks. I love leeks.

I planted some last year and have been enjoying them since the fall. I bought one $3 pack of seedlings at the garden center and have enjoyed over 75 of them, at least. At Wegmans they are pretty expensive so I think that the leeks have given me the  biggest return on investment for all of my veggies.

Alas it is almost May and I have to clear out the garden to make way for new veggies. And since, I rotate my crops each year, I need to make way in the leek garden for something else. We've been eating a lot of leeks. Not just as ingredients, as side dishes. Yes, we probably all do have stinky breath right now.

My favorite side dish is crazy easy.  I got it from an old episode of Rebecca's Garden, which used to air on HGTV.

Leek Gratin
3-4 large leeks (Mine were considerably smaller than the picture so I used more.)
1 8oz containger heavy cream
2/3 cup Gruyere Cheese (I used plain old swiss this past weekend and it was fine.  Gruyere is just really nice Swiss cheese anyway.)
Salt & Pepper
Sprig or 2 of Thyme ( I have an herb garden, if you do not, skip this. Don't buy thyme just for this)

Cut the leeks into 3 inch pieces and slice lengthwise. Keep Leeks in half moon shape and lay cut side down in a 9-inch pie plate. Cover bottom of the plate with leeks. Pour heavy cream over the top and add a pinch of salt & pepper & thyme sprigs. Bake at 350 for 30 min  (45 if the leeks are really huge) min. After 30 minutes sprinkle with cheese and bake 15 minutes more.  This is SO DELICIOUS. The leeks are nice a sweet and the cheese and cream are warm and gooey. It is rich though.  You don't need a lot even though you'll want to eat a lot.

This makes enough for 4 people but you might need something extra like asparagus to balance the richness.

I just thought of something. One thing I've never mentioned before is the fact that we don't usually have a starchy side dish with our dinner. (As much as I love them.)  We usually have a main entree and then a vegetable side, sometimes 2 if it's a rich one like the above mentioned leek, but usually just one.  We cook good meals from scratch almost every night.  I'm convinced we can do this more easily because of the fact that we only make 2 things. Sometimes if there are leftover vegetables from the night before they get heated up, but mostly we eat only one side. 

Both my husband and I are from homes where dinner was a main entree, starch side dish and a vegetable. Sometimes my mom puts 2 or 3 sides on the table. At first when we tried to lower the amount of  rice/potato/pasta on the plates, our plates felt weird, like they were missing something. Now it's just normal for us and is so much more simple than trying to cook 3 things at once. 

We eat the same amount as before, just less starch. Since I tend to eat too much of any starch at the expense of my vegetable, this forces me (my husband does not  need forcing ever) to eat enough vegetables. It is more expensive to eat this way, as asparagus is more costly than rice, but it's a cost  that I am willing to pay. 

It's gotten dicey lately as my daughter has gotten more picky and often I'm making broccoli as a 3rd side a few times a week because it's her favorite, but that is a post for another day.

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