Leeks - In Season

LeeksGeorgina Campbell

Although available all year round, leeks are at their best in winter and early spring and this versatile member of the allium (onion) family is a very useful garden crop as they are hardy and can be left in the round to harvest through the winter as required.

More like a big scallion (spring onion) than the bulbous onion, the flavour is mild and naturally sweet when cooked (only very young leeks are palatable raw). Leeks are a natural choice in cheese dishes, make excellent soups (simple potato & leek, for example, or classic cock-a-leekie), a wonderfully mellow addition to comforting dishes like lamb casserole (think lamb, barley, carrot and leek), also tarts and quiches - and, more surprisingly perhaps, leeks work well with fish (see below).

Deep fried leek can also make a pretty, crunchy garnish - and, of course, the leek is closely associated to Wales and St David’s Day (1st March). Although they need careful washing, as soil tends to lurk between the leaves, leeks are easy to prepare and - while many recipes deem it to be ‘correct’ to discard the green leaves - all except the coarsest outer leaves are perfectly edible and give welcome colour and character to many a dish.

Roast Cod with Parsley Mash & Creamed LeeksRECIPE: Roast Cod with Parsley Mash & Creamed Leeks

Martin Shanahan, chef-proprietor of what is probably Ireland’s most famous seafood restaurant, Fishy Fishy in Kinsale, never tires of championing the simplicity and speed of seafood cooking. This is a terrific timeless dish, and not just for the fish, but because the vegetables get equal billing - leeks partner well with fish, and this comforting combination is great for winter and early spring.

Serves 4

Parsley Potatoes

20g parsley (2 handfuls), chopped
¼ cup olive oil
8-10 potatoes
salt and pepper
Creamed leeks
300g leeks, finely sliced and washed
150 ml cream
20g butter
Roast cod
4 portions (approx 200g each) thickly-cut cod fillets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

First make the parsley mash: Mix the parsley and olive oil in a food processor, and process until you get a fine green purée. Boil the potatoes until just soft and mash with a potato masher. Whisk in the parsley purée with a fork. Season to taste.

To make the creamed leeks: place the cream and butter in a saucepan and boil to reduce. Add the finely sliced leeks and cook for just 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

To roast the cod: preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Use a frying pan that can go on the stove and into the oven. Place the pan on a high heat, and leave for 5 minutes until the pan is very hot.

Meanwhile, season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan, it should glisten and cover the base of the pan with a film of very hot oil. Place the fish onto this searing heat, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Place the whole pan in the oven for a further 2-3 minutes until the fish is milky white and firm to the touch.

To serve: place each portion of fish on top of a mound of potato, and spoon the leek sauce around it.

Variation: Other white fish such as haddock, hake or whiting can be used instead.

There are currently no comments

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment
Not a member? Register for your free membership now!
Or leave a comment by logging in with: