I tried a leek and I liked it. Seriously.
I’ve always glanced at the leeks sitting in the produce stand with a curious eye, but never made the jump. Until tonight. I couldn’t pass them up — what the heck are they? What do I do with them? I bought them and decided to find out.
Leeks are relatives of onions and garlic. They aren’t necessarily the love child of the two — more of a cousin. A cousin that you sit next to at the family reunion, but might not invite to your birthday party. You should though — leeks like birthday parties.
First thing I did was to find out how to clean and cut a leek (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_clean_leeks/)
Second thing I did was read a couple recipes. Leeks seem to make their way into soups most frequently. Humidity has settled in our city in a bad, bad way so soup is out of the question. I think I changed the direction I wanted to go with them about 4 times while they were caramelizing — first I wanted to do something with ravioli, then gnocchi and beans, then elbow pasta…then I ended up with a flatbread. And it was good.
Caramelized Leek & Vidalia Onion Flatbread
(Makes 3 flatbreads, takes about 80 minutes)
2 Vidalia Onions, cut in half, sliced thin in half circle shapes
3 Leeks, sliced thin in full circle shapes
2 tablespoons Butter
Tomato/Pizza/Pasta Sauce — homemade or store bought
Flatbread — To save time, I used naan. However, pizza dough would be preferable, if time allows
Shredded Cheese — I used white cheddar
Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat
Add the leeks and onions, sprinkle liberally with salt
— Salt draws out water which helps speed up the caramelization process. Your pan may look too full, but as the water cooks out, it will all shrink down.
Cook until water is evaporated and it starts to lightly brown, stirring occasionally — can take up to 20 minutes
Add butter and continue to cook, stirring periodically — until soft and golden brown throughout — can take another 20-30 minutes (Salt helps speed up the process, but it’s still a lengthy one. It’s worth it!)
Preheat the oven to 400
Top flatbread with sauce, cover with leek & onion mixture, sprinkle with cheese, bake for 10 minutes — finish under the broiler, if desired.
It was incredible! Vidalia onions are known for being a sweeter onion — add that to butter, caramelization and cheese and you get a very rich dish. I opted to serve it with a simple salad to help cut through the richness.
While the onions and leeks were cooking, I made my tomato sauce – which I will one day post a recipe for. Had I known I was going the flatbread route ahead of time, I would have made pizza dough too. I’m a huge fan of Ted Allen’s pizza dough recipe and it only takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to make.