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Roast Leeks and Herby Cheese Polenta

Make the most of seasonal produce with this dish of roasted leeks served on a bed of polenta flavoured with cheese and herbs.

From the book


This is a recipe for your prize-winning leeks. You know, the two-foot-long ones that you grew in a drainpipe that won first prize in the village show. No? No, me neither. My leeks are usually more stout, fat nonnas than Amazonian goddesses, but it’s nice to dream. Long, silky leeks draped over a creamy bed of polenta is a beautiful thing, but a stockier leek will taste just as good in this quick and comforting supper.

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2 large leeks, trimmed and washed
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
2 tsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp pine nuts
400ml whole milk
50g butter
100g quick-cook polenta
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

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Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.

Slice the leeks in half lengthways from top to bottom. Arrange in a roasting tin, cut-side up, then drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cover the tin tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 15 minutes, by which time the leeks will be soft and golden at the edges.

Meanwhile, mix the garlic in a bowl with the remaining oil, and the thyme, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the polenta in a steady stream and stir for 3 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat, season liberally with salt and then stir in the grated Parmesan.

To serve, spoon the polenta onto warm plates, then pile the roast leeks on top, drizzle over the dressing and finish with a scattering of toasted pine nuts.

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