The most statuesque member of the onion family, leeks stand tall beside their onion and garlic kin. Their flavour is more delicate and sweet than that of an onion, and made sweeter yet with cooking. They can be eaten raw, though are typically found cooked, popular in winter soups and well sautèed dishes. Leeks are a 'zero-waste' vegetable, as all parts can be used in one way or another, from the stronger tasting white to pale green base, to the darker green top of the sheaves.
Much like onions, there are a veritable ton of ways to use leeks. They're a base component of so many meals- soups and stews, pastas and risottos, frittatas to stuffing. So narrowing it down to a singular dish today is tough, as I've utilized them numerous times in our dinners the last couple of weeks. Since we also have a windfall of crunchy sweet autumn apples, and I imagine you may, too, I'm going with Leek, Apple and Sharp Cheese Flatbread. There's just something so superb when sweet and savoury pair perfectly, as they do here.
1/2 cup Warm Water
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Honey
1 1/3 c Spelt Flour 260g
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 teaspoons or 1 sachet Bakers Yeast
(In a large bowl mix warm water, oil and honey. Add the yeast and let sit a few minutes, then add flour and salt. Use a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula to mix thoroughly until a shaggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead the dough for a minute, until the dough becomes smooth. Then shape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the bowl, then turn the ball of dough around to coat. Tightly cover the bowl with a beeswax wrap, allowing the dough to rest either on the countertop for 3 hours, or better yet, overnight in the fridge.)
2 large Leeks, sliced in halves lengthwise, then chopped into half moons, rinsed and dried
2 Apples, sliced
2 tablespoons Ghee or Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Rosemary, chopped
1/2 Sharp Cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, even blue) dairy or plant based, shredded
Optional: Drizzle of honey, really kicks it up a notch
The How To:
If you're making your own dough you'll want to do that ahead of time. The recipe I shared is at it's best when the dough has been allowed to proof overnight, so if you mix it up and pop it in your refrigerator before you head to bed it will be perfect to use for lunch or dinner the following day. Just take it out of the fridge and allow it to return to room temperature before using.
If you're going the premade store bought route, follow the package directions and dive right into the toppings below. Either way, preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
Heat a large pan over medium heat. Coat with ghee or olive oil. Add leeks and stir to ensure they are coated in oil, then turn the heat to medium-low and, stirring occasionally, cook the leeks until they are soft and wilted, for around 15 minutes. Add the apples and cook just until they start to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in rosemary, salt and pepper.
Grease a flat baking pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Working gently, coax the room temperature dough outward, toward the edges of your pan/tray. If the dough refuses to stretch or continually rips, allow it to rest for a few minutes before stretching again.
Top dough with the leek and apple mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the oven and top with cheese, returning to the oven to bake for another 4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and glorious. Remove and allow to cool briefly. Drizzle with a light touch of honey, slice, and mmm-mm-mmm.
Keep those darker green portions to use in soup stock! They offer great flavour for free. A great tip is to keep all your fresh cut-offs and trimmings- end of the celery and carrots, clean peels, corn cobs etc- in a container in the freezer until there are a sufficient amount to simmer down with garlic and herbs to make a flavourful base for delicious soups, stews and risottos.
Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes and Wholefoods