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Leek geek


I’ve decamped to delectable Dijon this month for work, with the family in tow. A humble leek tart may strike you as a bizarre thing to be making in the gourmand capital of Burgundy, but with all the lunch-time restauranting, it’s been welcome to have a few simple vegetarian dinners at home. Although the covered market here is opulent and full of all sorts of extravagant delights, it has prices to match. Local, seasonal vegetables are just about the only economical option, so I’ve been getting creative with what’s on offer. An unexpected bonus of getting through so many leeks has been feeding the leftover tops to the city farm’s alpaga goats. No composting required. Chomp chomp chomp.

Leek tart tatin

Takes 20 minutes active time, 1h 15 minutes total, makes a 12 inch tart

Sweet, tender leeks with crispy, fluffy pastry: this is a budget friendly tart which is good to go for even the tiniest in the family. The leeks are cooked slowly in plenty of butter, ending up deliciously soft and sweet. Once you’ve got them cleaned and chopped, there is very little hands on time in the kitchen, making it an easy yet impressive dish for a lunch, starter, or light supper. If you wanted something a little richer, you could add some slices of cheese to the tart before you layer on the pastry - taleggio or creamy goats cheese would work well. Cooking the tart as a ‘tatin’ (this just means you bake it upside down) allows the pastry to stay nice’n’crisp rather than absorbing liquid from the leeks.

I recommend storing whatever you don’t eat at the first sitting upside down (pastry side up) and then reheating in a hot oven to crisp up the pastry.

* Leeks - 10

* Garlic - 1 large clove, peeled and finely sliced

* Butter - about 40g

* Thyme - a few sprigs

* Puff pastry - 1 round tart base

12 inch tart tin, greased with a little butter

Top and tail the leeks and clean them (make sure you get any dirt out of the green ends - no-one likes a gritty tart). As you’ll be cooking the leeks slowly, you can really use as much of the green part as you like.

Chop the leeks into 2cm slices.

In a large saucepan, fry the leeks in the butter with the thyme and garlic over a medium heat. Once the butteries melted and the leeks are sizzling a little, add a splash of water, turn the temperature down low and cover the pan. Leave the leeks to sweat and steam for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. They should be very soft and starting to disintegrate. Season the leeks with plenty of salt and pepper at this point (if you’re cooking with a babe in mind, leave out the salt).

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (170 fan assisted).

Spoon all the leeks into the tart tin and top with the pastry. If there is any pastry overlap at the edges, fold it back over itself rather than down the inside of the tart - it will crisp up better this way.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Leave to cool a little before turning out* onto a plate. Serve warm.

* Easy, right? For a perfectly turned out tart tatin, hold the serving plate (which should be larger than the outer edges of the tart) upside down on top of the tart tin. Slide your fingers under the tin, holding the plate in place with your thumbs. Then flip the whole thing over in one fell swoop.


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