The good news is that creamy white leeks have reappeared at the farmers market and I’ve found a wonderful new way to cook them. The bad news is that Cliff Mass says that this cool and rainy La Nina weather pattern is expected to last through April. The only silver lining I can think of is that we now have plenty of snow pack and can water our gardens later in the summer but first we need some sun so we’ll have crops to water. We’re all longing for some real warmth and the blue sky which magically appeared this weekend just long enough for me to have an outdoor birthday party. Whew!!
Now that I have my party weather worries behind me, I can go back to the good leeks and the recipe I found in the fabulous new cookbook, Tender, by Seattle’s very own chef and most importantly, local sustainable food and farm advocate, Tamara Murphy. It’s filled with photographs I can relate to since many of them are taken at our local farmers markets and her simple recipes are geared toward nudging you to cook seasonally, at home, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here at Mixed Greens.
Her Creamed Leeks with Prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano is the kind of multi-purpose recipe I’ll make over and over again since it can be served “over pasta, in risotto, over a chicken breast, mixed into scrambled eggs or served over toast points.” This dish is easy enough for a weeknight meal but rich enough for a dinner party. Best of all, you have plenty of time to cook the pasta or risotto while the leeks and prosciutto bake in the oven and everything can be easily assembled at the last moment.
I chose to serve mine over pasta and changed the original recipe slightly to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand.
Pasta with Creamy Leeks and Prociutto
3 T unsalted butter
3 large leeks, dark green part trimmed off, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, slivered
A sprig or two of fresh thyme and rosemary, chopped
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 cups chicken stock
Prosciutto slices to cover the leeks (about 5)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra to sprinkle on top
Big handful of chopped italian parsley
Pasta of your choice (I used spaghetti)
Parchment paper cut to fit the top of your baking dish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in ovenproof pan. Remove from heat. Brush one side of parchment paper with melted butter and set aside.
Add leeks, garlic, thyme and rosemary to the pan. Season with a little salt (prosciutto is salty so you don’t need much) and pepper. Add wine and chicken stock, just covering the leeks.
Lay slices of prosciutto overlapping on top to cover leeks and prevent liquid from evaporating. Cover with parchment paper, buttered side down.
Bake for 45 minutes, remove parchment paper and bake for 10 – 15 minutes longer to crisp the prosciutto.
Remove prosciutto from the pan and dice. Transfer leeks to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
Cook liquid remaining in pan until reduced by half. (I cooked pasta during this step, approx. 8 – 10 minutes).
Add cream to liquid and cook for 3 minutes longer. Add leeks and prosciutto back into the sauce along with parmesan cheese. Simmer until thickened.
Serve over pasta along with chopped parsley and extra cheese.
Many thanks to Tamara for her recipe and for the work she’s doing to support our local farmers.
Braising leeks intensifies their sweetness and is a great way to cook the baby leeks you’ll find at the farmers market. Check out this post for more great leek recipes.