Leek and Potato Bake
Leek and potato bake with tomato salad
This leek and potato bake is another one of those 'what ingredients have I got to make dinner with this evening' recipes. One day, I'll get organized and plan meals a little better but in the meantime, it's a lot of fun checking out the ingredients I have and making something delicious.
And this is delicious - so much so that it's a regular in our household these days. What's more, it's easy to make and costs next to nothing - I appreciate both those things!
I was faced with a large leek, some baby potatoes, a couple of ripe tomatoes, a chunk of cheddar cheese and one single egg. Hmm ...
The first time I made this, my other half said 'this looks good - what's it called?' And for no sensible reason I could think of, I said 'Maureen' so here it is - Maureen the leek and potato bake.
These are the quantities I used to serve two people. There's no need to be accurate; I've found that if I make too much, leftovers are soon gobbled up!
- About a dozen small potatoes. You could use any size or even canned potatoes. Canned are great when you've need to rustle this dish up quickly.
- A large leek.
- A glass of milk - I used about half a pint.
- One egg
- About 3 - 4 ounces of cheese - again the exact amount can vary.
- You'll also need some pantry staples - a little olive oil for frying, a heaped teaspoon flour, the same of butter and freshly-ground black pepper.
- To garnish - basil leaves (I have basil growing in a pot) and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese
Prepare the leeks and potatoes
PRE-HEAT THE OVEN
If I'm using the conventional oven, I pre-heat it to 350°. I'm finding though that I'm using my new toaster oven more and more these days. While the oven is heating up, prepare the leeks and potatoes as follows.
Wash the potatoes and boil. If the skins are in good condition, I leave them on to add fiber to the meal. Once they are cooked, slice them and add to a greased baking dish. If you're using a can of potatoes, simply drain them and rinse in clean water. This helps to remove and salt that might have been used in the canning process. Then cut into slices and layer as before.
Leeks need to be well washed. I usually wash the whole leek and then wash again under running water once they are sliced. It's a good idea to pat them dry using a paper towel. Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the sliced leeks gently until they begin to soften. This only takes about five minutes. Add the cooked leeks to the baking dish on top of the potatoes. I then add freshly-ground black pepper and out it in the oven while I make the topping.
Make the sauce for the topping
MAKE A WHITE SAUCE
Heat the butter in a small pan. When melted, add the flour and stir until mixed. With the pan on a medium low heat, add the milk slowly, stirring all the time. The sauce will thicken. Once it does, turn the heat down to a simmer; just enough to keep the sauce warm.
EGG & CHEESE
Grate the cheese and add to the white sauce. Stir well. Separate the egg and whisk the white. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the egg yolk. Once the yolk has combined with the sauce, add the whisked white. Remove the potato and leek from the oven, pour the sauce over and return it to the oven.
Ovens vary but this usually takes about fifteen minutes in mine. The sauce will puff up - a little like a soufflé - and will brown on top.
The tomato salad is simplicity itself. Simply slice the tomatoes, sprinkle with a little pepper and add basil leaves. Sometimes I add a drizzle of olive oil too but as the leeks were fried and the topping has cheese, I decided that was enough for one day! Sprinkling a tiny amount of sugar on the tomatoes really brings out their flavor, too.
I tend to run out of Parmesan cheese so quickly, but I had a little to sprinkle on the top of the dish just before serving.
I love to read recipe books. I can't say that I always stick exactly to the recipes - I don't! But I get fabulous ideas. If you're new to vegetarian cooking - or an established non-meat eater like me, you'll find excellent ideas from the books below.
Leek photograph from stock.xchng. Other photographs taken by me during the preparation of this dish
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© 2013 Jackie Jackson