14 April 2016
Welcome to leek week on Knidos Cookery Club. Last weekend, the market stalls in Datça, south-west Turkey, were laden with a selection of oversized leeks of proportions that would turn Welsh rugby fans green with envy. The last of the season’s plump lemons were also well represented, providing the inspiration for a lemony leeky fest.
The leek, pırasa in Turkish, is a cousin of garlic and onion and the largest member of the Allium family. Leeks are used in a number of dishes in Turkey – braised in olive oil with rice, in a hearty vegetable stew, in a lighter, creamy soup or baked in something akin to a pasty.
In this week’s recipe, Knidos Cookery Club will combine the mild oniony flavour of sliced leek with other ingredients readily found in Turkey – tangy lemon juice and zest, some salty white cheese and fresh walnuts, and put it all in a filo pastry case to make a zesty leek, goat cheese and walnut tart.
All systems go on assembling the tart:
Thirty minutes later – the finished product:
Ingredients (3-4 servings)
One large leek, cleaned and sliced into 50 mm rounds
Zest of one lemon (use a grater or vegetable peeler to slice off the yellow outer layer of the lemon)
Juice of one lemon
100 g crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese
Ten walnuts chopped into small pieces
Ten sheets of filo pastry
50 ml olive oil blended with 50 ml of milk or natural yogurt to make a glaze for the filo pastry
A sprinkling of thyme and chili pepper flakes
Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C (gas mark 6)
While the oven warms up, heat a dash of olive oil and a knob of butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the leeks and half the lemon zest and cook over a medium heat. When the leeks are softened, add the lemon juice and a sprinkle of thyme and raise the heat to reduce the liquid for a minute or so.
Now prepare the tart base. Layer sheets of filo pastry in a greased dish; as you go brush the glaze over each layer of filo pastry. (NB: If you can’t find filo pastry, any other sort of pastry will do the job).
Pour the leaks onto the tart base then crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle the walnuts pieces over the leeky layer. Add chili flakes, black pepper and thyme to taste – the salt from the cheese should be sufficient, but add more if you want. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over the tart.
Bake at 200 °C (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.
Remove from the oven and garnish with the rest of the lemon zest and a few more sprigs of thyme.
Serve with a green salad or side dishes of your choice.