Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lots of Leeks - Fettuccine con Crema Porri y Salmone Affumicato

Leeks, are the most underutilized member of the allium genus, or at least here in the United States. Leeks are to Onions as Elephant Garlic is to regular Garlic. And while they are ALL in the Lily family(alliaceae), which includes, or course, the lily as well as narcissus and asparagus. Elephant Garlic is actually a wild Leek. To confuse the world of “onions” even more, scallions (Green onion, Springs onion) are often referred to as “Shallots” in other parts of the world, while eschallot is use to denote what we, in the U.S., call a shallot. But that is another posting.

Getting back to the ancient leek…..
Oh, yes, Leeks are not only mentioned in the bible, but Egyptians planted them as far back as 3000 BCE, possibly 4000. Leeks are a fantastic edition to any dish as they marry well with just about everything, adding their subtle flavor without being overbearing. They can be eaten raw in salads or sautéed with your favorite vegetables. They pair excellently with lighter fish, such as tilapia, where an onion may completely overpower the delicate flavor.

I like to use them with the milder cheeses such as Gorgonzola Dolce, Humbolt Fog, Chevrie or Brie. I use them to make Aushak, an Afghan dish of Leek stuffed “dumplings’ served with Yogurt/Mint sauce and Meat sauce. They are excellent paired with mushrooms in soups. This brings me to one of my favorites… You cannot make Crème Vichyssoise without the humble leek.

Tonight, I was in a pasta mood. I was going to use my package of Lemon-Pepper Pappardelle, which is normally served with heavier meat sauces, but, I like to break a few molds here and there, cause I am a rebel. Like, in this case, serving Cheese with Fish… Although I am not sure that smoked salmon counts as fish anymore, since it is cured… It’s kind of like the difference between a Sirloin Steak and Jerky. Then I got home and realized that my package of Pappardelle was too small, it was like 6 oz... So I used normal fettuccine instead.
And Speaking of variations, this is a great recipe if you have left over baked or poached salmon. I would recommend using Brie instead of the Chevre, then simply sprinkle with a little smoked salt.

Fettuccine con Crema Porri y Salmone Affumicato

3 TB Olive oil
3 Leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced; (white and light green parts)
3/4 Cup Half and half
4 oz Soft Goat Cheese, crumbled; (I use chevre)
12 0z Fettuccine
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Green Pepper
4 oz Smoked Salmon; chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
(optional) Finely minced Italian Parsley

Begin heating a pot of water to cook Pappardelle
Slice dark green leaves from the Leeks, then in half length-wise wash under water to ensure all sand is removed.

Slice thinly.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet
Add sliced leeks and sauté until golden and tender, about 10 minutes.

Using a fork, Flake the Smoked Salmon.

Add half and half and crumbled goat cheese and stir until goat cheese melts.

Remove sauce from heat.
Season the sauce with Salt and Ground Green Pepper.

Meanwhile, cook fettuccine in large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until pasta is just tender.
Drain fettuccine and place in a bowl.
Pour sauce over the fettuccine and toss until thoroughly coated.

Transfer Pappardelle to individual bowls.
Top with smoked salmon and hit it with Lemon Zest and a littel finely minced parsley if desired.

Serve immediately.



DDpie said...

You had me at chevre....and then the smoked salmon? Yeah, I'm falling hopelessly in love (with your FOOD Shane, with the FOOD)

Danielle said...

I sooo wish I could eat fish!! This makes me want to cry cuz I can't even try making it. could I use....chicken? (ya, you knew THAT was coming)

Culinary Alchemist said...


Danielle - I don't see why you couldn't do something similar, like Smoked Chicken & Brie maybe.