Perhaps A Contest Is In Order
Working our way through the Backyard Blog Bonanza menu, we’ve come to the main course. After mulling it over for a few days and having nothing clever come to mind, I think I’m going to leave it to you guys to come up with an appropriate name for this dish. If I can think of a fun prize, I might even hold a contest. Any suggestions?
The short description of this dish is “scrumptious and filling”. It deserves a name that does it justice. In the meantime, I’ll just call it what it is – Caramelized Baby Leeks and Onions in Goat and Cream Cheese Sauce Tossed with Spinach, Chicken, and Orzo Pasta.
Please, can’t someone help a girl out here?!?!
Anyway, just a few words about the inspiration for the dish. I’ve been fascinated by the baby leeks at the farm. My first introduction to growing baby leeks, I initially mistook them for chives when I picked up a flat of seedlings to plant. Once in the ground and grown, they took on a striking resemblance to scallions, so much so that a few were pulled by mistake one day… ahem, not by me of course. It was some newbie volunteer, I swear! Drats, I never was a good liar.
Getting back on topic, you should know that baby leeks are not just chameleons in the field. Due to their clever disguises, I surmised they might be an easy substitute in a caramelized onion dish. And so they were. In the recipe below, I used both onions and leeks but if you’re ambitious enough to buy a bushel of leeks (or have easy access to them like I do), I think this dish would be even better with just leeks. That’s my plan for next time anyway. Plus it cuts out at least one part of that laboriously long title.
p.s. – I have to apologize for the lack of photos with this post. I was so busy cooking that I forgot to pick up my camera. I’ll do better next time.
CARAMELIZED BABY LEEKS…PASTA
1 box uncooked orzo pasta
2 T. butter
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. sugar
12-15 baby leeks
3 medium onions
7 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 c. roughly shredded spinach
1 lb. pre-cooked shredded white meat chicken (or soy “mock” chicken works nicely)
salt and pepper to taste
Prep baby leeks by trimming off dark green leaves so only the light green and white bottoms are left. Slice from top to bottom down the center. Submerge leeks in bowl with cool water to remove any grit or dirt. Meanwhile, slice onions into thin rounds. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Remove leeks from water and pat dry before adding to the hot skillet along with the onions. Lower heat and sprinkle sugar and a large pinch of salt over skillet before tossing onions and leeks to coat with butter and oil. Cook mixture until golden brown and soft, about 50 minutes.
About 20 minutes before the leeks will be ready, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta. If you forgot to set out the cheese to warm up, do so now. Shred your spinach if it isn’t already. In a small skillet, heat through and brown chicken. Reserve about 3/4 c. of pasta water before draining pasta. Toss the spinach with the hot pasta to wilt.
Leeks/onions should be done by this point so remove from heat. Working directly in the leeks skillet, mix in browned chicken, softened goat cheese and cream cheese, salt and pepper. Add enough of the reserved pasta water to loosen up the mixture, but don’t make it runny. Once the contents of the skillet are mixed thoroughly, toss in the spinach pasta to coat with leek cheese sauce. Serve with a nice side salad or zucchini fritters (pictured).
(serves 6-8 as main dish)