Leeks are a member of the onion and garlic family and in fact, they resemble giant green onions. They are milder in flavour than yellow or white onions and when cooked, have a delicate texture and taste. Leeks were in great abundance at the markets last week so they should be easy to find at farmer’s markets and at the supermarket.
The edible part of the leek is the white part, with the root and green leaves trimmed off. Leeks have many layers and need to be cleaned carefully. To clean them, trim roots and greens and slice the leeks lengthwise down the middle. Soak in a bowl of cold water to ensure all of the layers are free of sand and grit. Rinse with cold water, dry and chop as needed.
This recipe is for a leek tart (or quiche, if you’d prefer) and makes an excellent dish for breakfast or lunch. You could round it out with a light salad and fresh fruit or some croissants and imagine you’re in a cosy French cafe.
A note about the cream: For the custard to have the proper texture, heavy cream works best. You can certainly substitute lighter cream, milk or evaporated milk but it will have not have the same consistency. Clearly when it’s made with cream it’s not for everyday but it does make an impressive dish for special occasions! For vegetarians, leave out the ham.
Leek and Ham Tart
Makes one 9″ tart
(Can be adapted to be VEGETARIAN)
- 3 medium leeks, white parts only, cleaned and chopped
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, stripped from the branches and chopped OR 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 3.5 oz (100 g) chopped cooked ham (about 4 slices)
- 1/2 cup (2.5 oz / 75 g) grated swiss cheese (gruyère or emmenthal) OR white cheddar cheese
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 uncooked pie crust, to fit a 9″ pie or tart pan
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a skillet, heat butter until melted. Add chopped leeks and thyme. Sauté on medium heat until leeks have softened, about 10 minutes (watch carefully because they can burn quite easily). Place in a bowl and let cool.
- Roll out pie crust to fit a 9″ tart pan or pie plate. Crimp edges so it looks decorative. Use a fork to prick a few small holes in the bottom of the crust. Bake crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, cream, cheese, ham and cooled leek mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined. Season with fresh ground black pepper.
- Pour egg mixture into pie crust. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until custard has set in the middle and the top is beginning to brown.
- Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!