If you haven’t yet used leeks as the unique protagonists of a dish, you might change your mind with this recipe for leeks au gratin. Be prepared to cook them often, as they are sure to become one of your favorites.
Leek is a good substitute for onions, as it has a very similar use in cooking, but with a milder flavor. That is why it can be the absolute protagonist of a delicious dish such as leeks au gratin with cheese.
This recipe has many strengths that make it an ideal candidate to prepare often. Accessible, healthy ingredients with a very rich final flavor. You are sure to fall in love!
Leeks: the sweet relative of onions
Leek is a vegetable native to Europe and Western Asia, also known by the name of ajoporro. It belongs to the same family as garlic, shallots and onions, with which it shares some of its characteristics, nutrients and properties.
Its flavor is much milder than the latter and it has a sweet spot. Once cooked, it acquires a creamy texture and is a highly appreciated ingredient for making soups, creams and a variety of cakes.
When prepared plain and whole they can be a tasty side dish or side or the main dish of any meal. Boiled or roasted, they are served with vinaigrette, mayonnaise or with a bechamel sauce. This is the recipe that we teach you to cook below.
It is a useful preparation, as it is prepared quickly and even allows you to do it in advance and leave the cooking before eating. This way, the combination of flavors and texture that melted cheese provides is much more enjoyable.
Ingredients needed for 4 servings of au gratin leeks
8 large leeks.
Salt according to taste.
3/4 of a liter of milk.
50 grams of flour.
Grated cheese to taste
50 grams of butter.
How to make au gratin leeks
1.To start, remove the greenest parts of the leek. These can be reserved to prepare a broth or a vegetable cream. Clean and dry the white part, trying to remove well any remaining dirt.
2.Next, put a large saucepan on the fire with plenty of water and a little salt. When it starts to boil, add the leeks and cook for about 20 minutes. The time can vary depending on the thickness and can be removed when soft.
3.Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper to remove all excess water. Then place in a baking dish.
4.While the leeks are cooking, prepare the béchamel sauce. To do this, place a smaller saucepan on the fire and melt the butter. Then add the flour and let it take a little color. Add the milk very slowly and stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Let it cook until a thick texture is obtained.
5.Correct the salt and reserve the sauce.
6.Once all the elements are ready, pour the bechamel over the leeks. Add the grated cheese to taste and gratin in the oven at 250 degrees Celsius until the cheese melts and turns golden.
The gratin leeks admit some varieties with which you can have a different dish each time. Thus, it is possible to wrap them with a slice of ham or put a little sobrasada on top.
It is also possible to choose the cheese that you like the most, although those that are best suited to this type of dish are emmental, gruyere, cheddar and mozzarella. Brie and Camembert offer a creamier result.
Like all vegetables, leek is a very light food, as a large part of its composition is water. In addition, it provides a relevant amount of fiber, folates, vitamin B6, vitamin C and A.
The presence of minerals in this vegetable is not very significant and phosphorus and potassium stand out. Thanks to the latter, it is very suitable for people suffering from fluid retention and high blood pressure, due to its diuretic effect.
Apart from its nutritional value, it is very interesting to highlight the presence of other phytochemicals that give it beneficial properties. One of them is the flavonoid kaempferol, with a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity that, according to studies, could help reduce the risk of suffering from some diseases.
We must also add the antiplatelet and antioxidant activity of the sulfur and phenolic components that can be beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular problems.
Due to the presence of soluble fiber, the leek helps fight constipation. It stimulates the growth and activity of some bacteria in the intestine. Beyond improving this aspect, its positive effects are observed in immunity, in the absorption of some minerals and in the cardiovascular system.
Cook au gratin leeks to enjoy a tasty and healthy dish
Leek is a vegetable that is widely used in cooking, especially to prepare stews, creams and stir-fries. Although it is also possible to present it as the main ingredient.
It is worth introducing it into the usual diet, as it brings many benefits to the body. In addition, as specified in the Australian Government’s Dietary Guide, introducing fruits and vegetables is positive for preventing cardiovascular problems, being overweight and diabetes.
To get the most out of this recipe we recommend using fresh leeks. These are on the market for most of the year. Although it is also possible to buy them canned, already cooked and ready to use.
However, we remind you that if you lack time to cook, you can leave almost the entire dish ready in advance. In this way, only the final gratin in the oven is necessary just before serving.
Although the base of the dish is leeks and these are a very light food, both the béchamel sauce and the cheese give it a little more consistency. That is why it is advisable to accompany it with a second light dish that can be based on meat or fish.