Leek is one of those veggies that gets easily overlooked or is rarely used as the star of a recipe. Those poor leeks are usually only used in soups or stews and never gets to take the spotlight but that’ll no longer be the case after today! I recently had a big craving for a savoury pie and decided to try and make a leek pie, with a little bit of broccoli, goat cheese and walnuts as well to give it some extra flavours and use some extra seasonal ingredients. I originally wanted to make it with short crust pastry but accidentally bought puff pastry instead and I think it actually worked out better than if I had used short crust pastry. shortcut is heavier and thicker than puff pastry so it would have made this too heavy, compared to the light and crispy puff pastry.
It’s a great Autumn/Winter lunch meal and you can easily reheat this in the microwave at work too, although you’ll lose a bit of the crispiness of the puff pastry, it’ll still taste delicious!
Leeks are related to garlic and onions but have a much subtler, sweeter and more sophisticated flavour although they still share the same health benefits. They have been cultivated for quite a while, at least since the time of the Ancient Egyptians and can even be seen in surviving tomb paintings from that same period. Further more, the Romans considered the leek a superior vegetable and Emperor Nero was an absolute lover of leeks! He ended up being nicknamed as ‘the leek eater’ and it is presumed he believed eating it would improve his singing voice. But Nero wasn’t the only one who appreciated leeks, this vegetable even occurs in the oldest cookbook in the world! Roman cookbook writer Apicus, who was quite famous at the time and is credited with having written the first cookbook, recorded that the best leeks came from Egypt, and they were a vegetable to be served in their own right like asparagus. This unlike onions are garlic, which he considered just a vegetable for seasoning. And I couldn’t agree more with Apicus!
Leeks are cultivated all year round but it’s at its best from October – March, making it an ideal Autumn & Winter seasonal vegetable. As I said before they have some great health benefits, as they are an excellent source of Vitamin A & K as well as Iron & Folate and a good source of Vitamin C and folic acid. They are also an excellent source of kaempferol, which has repeatedly been shown to help protect our blood vessel linings from damage as it acts as an antioxidant by reducing oxidative stress. WHfoods adds “Unfortunately, leeks have received less research attention than their fellow allium vegetables (especially garlic and onions), and for this reason, there is less documentation of their likely health benefits. Given their substantial polyphenol content, including their notable amounts of kaempferol, we would expect to see overlap with garlic and onions in terms of support for many health problems related to oxidative stress and chronic low-level inflammation. These health problems would include atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and allergic airway inflammation. We would also expect to see leeks providing measurable amounts of protection against several different types of cancer, mostly likely including colorectal cancer. It’s important to remember that even in the absence of research studies to confirm health benefits, leeks still belong to the same allium vegetable family as onions and garlic and contain many health-supportive substances that are similar to (or identical with) the substances in their fellow allium vegetables.”
Serves: 5 people
- 1 sheet of puff or short crust pastry
- 2 leeks
- 200g broccoli
- 2,5dl cream
- 3 tablespoons of parmesan
- 6 eggs
- 75g goat cheese (log)
- handful of walnuts (optional)
It’s quite easy to make this recipe, but you have to make sure to really pay a lot of attention to cleaning leeks as they often have sand inside them. While we prepare the pie ingredients, we have to pre-bake/blind bake the pastry as the sauce we use is quite liquid and will make the pie very soggy unless it was pre-baked. So place the pastry (with the sheet it comes with) in your pie tin and press it against the sides, prick the base with a fork a few times and place parchment paper on top and add baking weights or old rice onto it to keep it pressed down. Place in the oven at 200°C and pre-bake for about 15 minutes. You can then remove the parchment paper with the weights and either bake it for another 5-10 minutes without the weights or leave it as it is. For me the base looked pretty good after 15 minutes so I didn’t bake it any further.
Wash the leeks from the outside before cutting them. Then remove the root end (1-2cm) and remove the dark leaves, you can use these in soups or stock. Slice up the remaining part in rings, don’t make them too thick but not too thin either, about 0,5-1cm. Now it’s time to give it an extra rinse, place the sliced up leeks in a colander and wash them again. You can break the rings apart if you want to make sure there’s no sand left in between those layers, but I kept a few intact to place at the top of the pie, purely for the looks of it.
Now moving on to the broccoli! Cut the florets off the broccoli and cut each floret up in thick slices. it’ll make it easier to eat and to cut up once people start eating it. I cut mine up in about 3 slices each.
Get a large glass ready and crack the eggs into the glass, stir it with a fork until it’s completely mixed and add the goat cheese and cream. Stir again.
Heat up a little bit of olive oil or butter in a frying pan and shortly fry the leek slices for about 2-3 minutes. The make a nice layer of leek slices (use about half of them) at the bottom of your puff pastry and add half the broccoli to it as well. Poor the egg/cream/cheese mixture on top and then continue to layer leeks & broccoli until you’re pleased with the result. Don’t turn it into a mountain of veggies though, try to keep it more or less at the same level of the edge of the pie tin. The eggs will cook very quickly so there’s no risk of your tin overflowing but if you add too much veggies on top of the sauce you might have an unevenly cooked pie.
Slice up the goat cheese log and place it around the pie. Grind a little bit of pepper on top and add walnuts if you choose to add them. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 190°C until the goat cheese starts to brown. Best eaten as brunch/lunch but can also be served as dinner.