A Brief Background
For many years my mother enjoyed and collected Southern Living magazines and their annual cookbooks. One year when I was home for Christmas, Mom and I decided to try a recipe for Scalloped New Potatoes and Leeks, found in Christmas with Southern Living 1998. We really liked this casserole, which is great any time but especially at Christmas with the green leeks and red bell peppers displaying some traditional Christmas color in this dish. Cheddar cheese and half ‘n half add to the richness of this wonderful potato side dish.
Leeks – The Basics
Leeks are vegetables related to onions, garlic, shallots and chives, but with a sweet, delicate and subtle flavor. They have a thick, white stalk that’s cylindrical in shape and has a slightly bulbous root end. The broad, flat, dark green leaves wrap tightly around each other. Leeks are an excellent source of Vitamin K and Vitamin A.
Buy leeks that have firm, unblemished white lower parts, and bright green leaves with a crisp texture. Smaller leeks tend to be sweeter and more tender. Store them wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to a week. Leeks are available year round but are best from September to March.
To prepare leeks for use, first wash them thoroughly. I submerge leeks in a sink full of water and swish them back and forth to remove any sand, dirt or grit that can collect between the layers.
Trim off the base, or root end and cut away the uppermost part of the leaves. Slice the leeks starting at the end that was just cut off, and continue up until the leaves are reached. Discard the leaves.
Scalloped New Potatoes and Leeks – The Recipe
Allow 75 minutes of baking time for Scalloped New Potatoes and Leeks plus some prep time. The leeks are washed and sliced. The red bell pepper is chopped, and the new potatoes are sliced. A sauce is made with butter, flour and half ‘n half, seasoned with Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Sauce (1/2 cup) is spooned into an 11″ x 7″ x 1 1/2″ baking dish, followed by a layer of potato slices, leeks & red pepper, and cheddar cheese; then the layers are repeated. The casserole is baked for 50 minutes, covered, then uncovered and baked for 25 minutes more or until potato slices are tender.
Here’s the printable recipe:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half 'n half
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 5 cups thinly sliced new potatoes
- 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- Melt 1/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth.
- Cook with constant stirring for 1 minute. Gradually stir in half 'n half and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
- Stir in mustard, salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat.
- Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add leeks and chopped red pepper.
- Cook, stirring constantly until tender.
- Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into a greased 11" x 7" x 1 1/2" baking dish.
- Layer with half each of potato slices, leek mixture, sauce and Cheddar cheese. Repeat layers.
- Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 50 minutes.
- Uncover and bake 25 minutes more or until potato slices are tender.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with red pepper strips.
4 Other Interesting Facts About Leeks
*Nero supposedly believed leeks would improve his singing voice and is said to have eaten prodigious quantities to that end.
*The Romans were said to have introduced leeks to the UK.
*In the 6th Century Wales made leeks their national symbol because they were convinced that the leeks they wore on their helmets to distinguish them from their enemies strengthened them and helped them win wars.
*Two of the world’s famous soups are based around leeks: Cock-a-leekie Soup in Scotland and Creme Vicchyssoise in France.
Try this scrumptious recipe for Scalloped New Potatoes and Leeks soon!
Remember to Savor the Flavor of the New Year!
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