Everyone loves the Thanksgiving meal for its predictability. Thanksgiving is the closest this country gets to a ritualistic menu. Just so no one equates tradition with the “same ol’ stuff,” it is nice to have one new recipe in the Thanksgiving line-up. This Baked Leeks recipe fits seamlessly into the season without being the standard squash or potatoes dish.
Food blogger and columnist Heather Atwood introduces the leek to the Thanksgiving spread and how, when paired with the cheese and vodka, a beautiful wintery taste perfect for the holidays is easily achieved.
Just within the last couple of weeks, leeks were being tugged out of the cold, hard ground. This will certainly guarantee a fresh vegetable base at any grocery store, ideal conditions with which to prepare this dish.
Once baked with an indulgent amount of mascarpone cheese, a shake of grappa or vodka and a topping of crusty Parmesan cheese, the leeks transform into a warm comfort food. With its wonderful aroma of melted cheese with a hint of grappa, this dish will be difficult for anyone, even the pickiest of eaters, to resist.
Without disturbing the autumnal harvest celebration atmosphere of Thanksgiving even the slightest, these baked leeks will be a welcome surprise nestled between the stuffing and brussels sprouts on the dining room table. This is the one new recipe that is so delicious — and so seasonally legitimate — it is destined to become a family tradition.
1 tablespoon butter for greasing
12 medium-large leeks, green off, white split and sliced into rounds
2 cups mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces grappa or vodka
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an oval dish with the butter.
2. Place leeks in a large bowl. In smaller bowl place and combine the mascarpone cheese, nutmeg, pepper, salt and grappa (or vodka, depending on which you choose to use).
3. Scrape mixture into leeks bowl and combine gently with two forks.
4. Spoon mixture into greased baking dish and spread evenly.
5. Scatter Parmesan cheese over the mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden crust forms.
Recipe courtesy of chef and food blogger Heather Atwood, 2012.