Leeks are a staple in my springtime kitchen. They are one of my favorite seasonal ingredients for their gentle fragrance. I add them to soups, mashed potatoes, braise them in cream, and make this Savory French Leek Tart.
While Leeks are found in other cultures, the French have elevated them to almost noble ranking. The leek, le poireau, is harvested in France throughout most of the year and recipes abound and vary by region and family. I first tasted this particular tart during a brief stay in France and, unlike most savory tarts, it doesn’t require eggs. None at all! How it manages to stay together must be the result of some gorgeous French culinary magic.
I’m always surprised to hear how many people have never had leeks or don’t know how to prepare them. Perhaps it’s because leeks are quite large and can appear a bit intimidating. They do look like super-sized green onions, don’t they?
If you’ve never prepared leeks before, you’ll only want to use the tender white and light green parts, found at the lower half of the leek. You can chop or slice those parts before adding them to a recipe. The outer greens, or the upper part of the leek, is much darker and tough and can be added to long simmered recipes, like soups, as they impart a rich flavor – though they will need to be strained out and discarded when done.
Leeks offer a distinct flavor, somewhat like an onion though much more mild in taste. After all, they are part of the allium family, which means they are close relatives to the onion, garlic, shallot and scallion. But they are dirty! It’s important to thoroughly clean leeks since the sandy dirt they grow in often gets caught between the layers. This isn’t difficult to do, here’s a helpful video tutorial from Gourmet Magazine.
For this super easy Savory French Leek Tart, you’ll only need 2-3 leeks, quality Gruyère or Comte cheese, light cream and salt and pepper to season. If you have a ready-made pie crust then you are all set. If you prefer to make your crust from scratch, like I do, I will provide you with that recipe as well.
Caramelize the leeks in 3 tablespoons of butter, until they are tender and golden brown, add 1 cup of cream and about 1/2 cup of grated Gruyère or Comte cheese. Mix well until the cheese has melted. Season. That’s it!
I told you this was easy!
Pour into a pie crust and 30 minutes later you’ll have a delicious Savory French Leek Tart. One note though, don’t cut into the tart straight away. Remember, there are no eggs in this recipe. Allow the cheese and leeks to set. I usually give this about 20 minutes or so after it’s out of the oven. This way it’ll keep its shape and still be warm enough to savor.
This makes for a great brunch or light lunch with a side salad. Create a Carla Bruni playlist and dine al fresco with a good Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne and share with your favorite company. Serve warm or room temperature.
This Savory French Leek Tart goes fast, so you might want to make two!
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Savory French Leek Tart
For the Leek Mixture:
1 9 inch pie crust (ready-made is ok, or see below for homemade recipe, recommended)
3 tablespoons salted butter
2-3 Leeks, white & light green parts only, cleaned & chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup of light cream
1 1/2 cups of grated Gruyère or Comte cheese
For the Pie Crust:
4 cups all-purpose flour (I only ever use King Arthur Organic)
1 3/4 cups shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold water
*If making homemade pie crust, prepare crust first and refrigerate. Recipe below.
For the Leek Mixture:
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter and stir in leeks, continue to stir occasionally. Cook until tender and they begin to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low;
- Add cream and Gruyère or Comte cheese and gently stir until cheese has melted. Pour into pie crust;
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top has set and turned golden. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to set before serving. Serve warm or room temperature.
For the Pie Crust:
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, shortening, sugar and salt. Combine until crumbly and mixture resembles coarse sand. (Note, most recipes will suggest using a pastry cutter to combine, I have also found that running a large pizza cutter back and forth provides the same results and is quicker);
- In a smaller bowl, mix together egg and water. Add to flour mixture and stir to combine until dough forms. Form dough into a disc shape and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
- When ready, roll out chilled dough onto a lightly floured work surface and work quickly. Roll into a circular shape that is a little larger than the circumference of your pie dish. You will need the dough to overhang your pie dish by approximately 4 inches.
- NOTE: Before pouring mixture into the ready crust, poke a fork into the bottom and sides of the crust a few times and bake for 15 minutes to help set the crust and prevent air bubbles from forming while baking.
Other ideas: Cook leeks in bacon fat and add bits of bacon to your mixture! Yum!
Here’s some helpful tips when working with homemade pie crust from Cook’s Illustrated:
First, always work with well-chilled pastry; otherwise, the dough will stick to the counter and tear.
Second, never roll out dough by rolling back and forth over the same section; each time you press on the same spot, more gluten develops that can toughen the dough.