Last night I decided to experiment with Laura's Paris Cooking Notebook's Leek Gratin. Leeks are a dime a dozen right now, and I've been itching to use some. My husband likes some substance to his meals, and somehow putting something in a tart pan makes it seem more substantial or like a main dish to him. So I decided to make a tart out of the gratin. I also decided to add some chopped spinach to give it some more nutritional value. It turned out well, but there are some tweaks I'll make to it next time.
Here is my version of Laura's Leek Tatin:
Leek and Spinach Gratin Tart
1 store-bought pâte sablée or brisée (or I would imagine a pie crust in the US would work too, but I haven't tried it yet.)
3 large leeks
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup fromage blanc (because this is much easier to get here in France than cream cheese)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp curry
1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach
1/2 cup grated Emmentaler cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Lay out the dough in a large tart pan and press down the sides to make sure you get that nice fluted look. Put in refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
Cut off the dark green parts of the leeks and either save for a vegetable stock/soup/etc. or toss. Cut the whites and light green parts into slices and let soak in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. Rinse and let sit in a new change of water for a few minutes more to clean.
Heat the oil in a pan and add dried off leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Let them cook over medium heat until they've started to soften (about 6-7 minutes).
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the fromage blanc, milk and spices. Mix until not lumpy anymore. Add the spinach in small bits and mix well.
When the leeks have softened, remove them from the heat and let them cool down for a few minutes. Add them to the egg mixture, stir well, and pour mixture into the tart shell. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the middle is set and the crust is a golden brown.
So now for what I would do next time. I would probably leave the Emmentaler off. It didn't taste bad, but just gave a little bit of a rubbery texture to the top of the tart. I liked the taste and the nutritional value of the spinach, but it didn't add much to the texture. I'll probably leave it in next time, but if you want smooth and creamy, leave it out. Also, my husband suggested topping the tart with crunchy, fried leeks. I might try that next time, adding them about half-way through the baking to make sure they stay on top and don't sink.
I also served this with a side of oven roasted brussel sprouts (easy enough...cut them in half and toss with olive oil, a couple of crushed garlic cloves, and salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees F until browned, shaking them every few minutes so they didn't burn on the bottom.) I liked the brussel sprouts, but will add some balsalmic vinegar at the end to add some more flavor. I also would suggest possibly serving your tart with a salad instead of a hot veggie side. It would have made a nice contrast...