I still have a few ingredients I have yet to use from my holiday cooking. A sheet of puff pastry and a bunch of leeks were of particular concern. Since my husband and I couldn't stomach the thought of another dessert, my options for the puff pastry leaned towards something savory The leeks were originally intended for a potato-leek soup I never got around to making, so I needed to put them to good use now as well. With my sister, her husband and my dad coming for dinner this seemed like a good opportunity to finally incorporate them into our meal. A leek tart came to mind perhaps as a nice appetizer.
There are plenty of recipes out there for leek tarts that range from simple to quiche-like creations. The one I like best is more quiche-like, meaning the leeks are encased in a creamy, cheesy custard. My preference would have been to use a savory pie/tart crust, but I wanted to get rid of that puff pastry, so I made do with that. A good custard base for a tart or quiche usually calls for some real cream, either half n' half, or the heavy stuff. Since I didn't have either, I added some leftover cream cheese to the milk which gave it just enough tang and a nice creamy texture. Gruyere cheese would have also been preferred, but, here again, I settled for what I had on hand. This time it was a small amount of an Italian cheese blend, you know, one of those packages of pre-grated cheeses you find in the dairy section that I used for the stuffed shells I made for New Years Day. This one included finely grated mozzarella, Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses. I didn't have quite enough so I added a bit more freshly grated Parmesan.
The resulting tart was delicious. But in all honesty, I wish I had made the savory pie crust instead. One sheet of puff pastry wasn't big enough for the amount of filling I made. So, in addition to the tart made with the puff pastry, I lined a pie plate with a few slices of multi-grain bread that I rolled out flat and buttered. I filled it with the remaining filling and baked. An easy fix that was equally delicious.
Savory Leek Tart
3 T. butter
2 sheets of puff pastry, or savory pie crust
1 green onion, chopped
3 T. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c. grated medium to sharp cheese - any variety
Roll 1 sheet puff pasty on lightly floured sheet pan into a 12" x 12" square or any shape you prefer. Trim 1 " strips from all four sides. Using an egg wash or milk, brush all four edges. Place the 1" strips around all four edges and press lightly to adhere. With a small, sharp knife, score around the inside of the 1" strips being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Repeat with 2nd pastry sheet. Blind bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the oven. Remove the blind baking beans and set aside.
Prepare leeks by removing the stem and hard stalks and discard both. Now slice the white portion in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/2" slices. Put in a cold water bath to clean. Strain and repeat one or two times to be sure grit and sand is thoroughly removed.
In a medium sized saute pan melt the butter. Add the well drained leeks and saute on medium to med-hi heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender and all liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl beat eggs, add softened cream cheese, milk. green onions (white and green parts), salt, pepper, nutmeg and mix till ingredients are well incorporated. Add grated cheese.
Spread cooled leeks inside pastry shell. Carefully pour the filling over all the leeks. Don't overfill, as filling will puff up slightly when cooked.
Put in a 400 degree oven and bake another 20 minutes till custard is cooked - knife inserted in center should come out clean. Slice and serve warm.