A couple of weeks back when I was planning our Paella party – that never happened, I had round up a couple of tapas recipes to served while our paella was cooking on the open flame.
This dish was one in the list. Today, as I opened the refrigerator to get some cheese to make myself and Tom a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, I notice the leeks and remember this recipe. After a bit more of investigating, realized that I had everything I needed to make it and off I went to test my memory bank. I did this on the fly, because after looking for over 10 minutes ALL OVER MY HOUSE could not find the original printed/marked recipe in any of my print outs or books.
I’m happy to say my memory is just fine, thank-you-very-much.
It’s perfect as an appetizer or even a side dish. And the best part of it, it came together in less than 30 minutes.
Baked Leeks in Béchamel sauce
- 3-4 leeks, large
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup of milk
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- salt, white pepper and nutmeg (to taste)
- ¼ cup of grated Gruyere cheese (you can also use parmesan cheese or pecorino)
- 5-7 thinly slices of prosciutto ham
Cut off the roots and the green part of the leeks. Cut the leeks downwards in a cross shape from the top, remove the outside leaves and wash in plenty of water to remove any soil from between the layers. Roughly chop them in thirds.
In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil and add the leeks. Season with salt and white pepper and sauté until translucent. Turn off the heat and put aside.
In another saucepan in over medium heat, melt the rest of the butter, add the flour and fry gently. (if you see the mixture bubble up, remove from the heat, but don’t stop stirring) Pour milk and stirring all the time to make a smooth béchamel sauce. Season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. If it gets too thick, you can add a bit more milk to water it down. I needs to end up like a smooth, creamy sauce.
Heat your oven broiler to “high”
Arrange the leeks on an oven-proof dish, leaving spaces between them. Place the prosciutto ham slices between the leeks so that the fat melts with the heat of the dish, bringing out the taste of the ham. Pour the béchamel over and top with the grated cheese. Brown under the broiler until the cheese melts and bubbles away and created a bit of burn areas. Keep a heavy eye on it, so it will not burn.
We loved the dish. The heat brings out the full flavor of the prosciutto ham, and with the mild leek flavor combined with the creamy sauce it’s perfect as those appetizer that you pluck in the middle of the table and give everyone a fork so they can served themselves. For the next time I’m going to chop the prosciutto ham, to make it a bit easier to eat.. leaving it whole, its a bit of challenge when you are trying to serve the dish.
And for my vegetarian readers, this is a great option for you, if you omit the ham.