Leeks and Parsnips Baked in Cream

I have been staring at a nice stand of leeks in the back beds for months now. On occasion I have attempted to pull a leek to use in a soup or a braise, and the results have always been less than Arthurian. Several of my early attempted pullings resulted in the breaking of the leek about an inch underground. Then I got smart and grabbed my hand trowel, thinking I’d just have to dig them. The hand trowel bent into a useless configuration, handle pointed 90-dregrees off from the blade, and no leeks were freed from the ground. It was at this point, if you’ll forgive the pun, that I threw in the trowel.

Well yesterday, emboldened by the sunshine, I decided to give harvesting the leeks another shot. I had been using my industrially-built treaded shovel to move and smooth crushed granite all afternoon, and figured it ought to do the trick of lifting the leeks.
It took a heel pressed firmly into the shovel to penetrate the leek roots that clung fast to the moderately clayey soil in the bed, but my determination paid off, and I harvested a three-foot row of leeks. As I shook clods of soil from the roots of the leeks, my assumption that they, like most alliums, were “shallow rooted” was seriously challenged. These leeks sported 8 to 9 inches of roots, and that’s after I had essentially cut them out of the ground.
I finally got these suckers out of the ground.

Once inside I noticed three parsnips on the counter I had pulled from the front beds earlier. The dregs of some heavy cream was languishing in the fridge, threatening to sour itself if I didn’t use it soon. A French-inspired winter vegetable side dish was born.

Leeks and Parsnips Baked In Cream

Leeks and Parsnips Baked in Cream

Makes about 4 servings unless, like me, you keep sneaking extra leeks and parsnips out of the baking dish while cleaning up.

  • 6-10 medium leeks
  • 3 medium parsnips
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • ½ cup (approximately) heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim and clean the leeks by removing any papery or dry outer layers and slicing off any dark green top leaves. Slice the remaining white and light green parts lengthwise and hold leek open under running water to remove any dirt that might be trapped between the layers. Peel and trim the parsnips. Cut into ½” thick slices.

Scatter the parsnips around the bottom of a baking dish. (I used an 11″x7″ pyrex but any dish large enough to hold everything is fine. Shape doesn’t matter.) Place the leeks atop the parsnips and stick the  thyme sprigs in amongst the leeks. Pour the cream over everything, dot with the butter and give everything a generous sprinkle of salt and grind of pepper.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the leeks and parsnips are tender all the way through, about 30-40 minutes.

If you want to be really French about it, enjoy these leeks with good friends, a loaf of rustic bread and perhaps some Poulet Roti. And wine. Lots of wine.

Comments

  1. Mmm, I love leeks! We haven't tried growing many alliums, and I don't think our CSA farmer grew leeks.

    Favorite recipe for me is a warm salad with wild rice, orzo, oven-roasted leeks, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

    For your French meal, do you have to smoke a cigarette with it, too? ;-)

  2. Sounds divine!

  3. Ah, thanks for sharing your inspired dish! We LOVE us some leeks around here, and my wife makes a mad leek-potato-au-gratin…but leeks and parsnips sound heavenly. We'll be trying this soon. :)

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