There’s a tradition in The Royal Welsh regiment of wearing leeks on St David’s Day, and
also eating the leeks – raw! I’d heard of this tradition from other wives whose partners were
with the Royal Welsh, but when my husband started a job in Wales as a permanent staff
instructor with a reserves unit; they also had a tradition on St David’s Day to get any new
members of staff or recruits to eat a raw leek. Let’s just say he was happy that he only had to
do it once as an initiation and not every St David’s Day.
In honour of this tradition, here’s a delicious tart celebrating the leek in all its glory. It’s
a light and refreshing dish, perfect for lunch or supper served with a fresh and peppery
watercress salad. I’m cheating slightly by using shop-bought puff pastry, but you can, of
course, make rough puff pastry if you prefer. (See recipe page 105)
prep: 25 minutes, cook: 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves 6)
1 tbsp oil
a knob of butter
4 large leeks
250g ricotta cheese
75g Parmesan cheese, grated
100g baby leaf spinach
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to season
300g ready-made puff pastry, either rolled or in block form
1. Wash and thinly slice the leeks. Heat the oil in a medium pan and
sauté the leeks with a good pinch of salt over a gentle heat until soft.
Pop the lid on so that the leeks sweat, stirring occasionally so that
they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan. They should take about
10 minutes to cook until soft. Taste to check the seasoning, adding
salt and pepper if needed. Remove from the heat.
2. Add the butter, spinach and a drop of water to a medium
saucepan over a medium heat. Stir and pop a lid on to wilt the
spinach. After 1-2 minutes remove from the heat, drain away the
liquid and leave the spinach to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6 and roll out the
pastry onto a greased or lined baking tray and bake in the oven
for about 10 minutes.
4. While the pastry is cooking, put the cooled spinach into a bowl along
with the ricotta and 50g of the Parmesan cheese.
Add the lemon zest, taste and season with salt and pepper.
5. Once the pastry has baked for 10 minutes, remove it from the oven
and fully press down the middle, leaving a 1cm border all the way
around. Spread the ricotta and spinach mixture evenly from the
middle, right up to the border. Add an even layer of the leeks and
sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese. Pop the tart back into
the oven and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
Serve with a watercress salad.
Taken from Feeding My Army, a new recipe book in whichmilitary wife and TV cook Beca Lyne-Pirkis showcases delicious food designed to keep us all going. From wartime hardship meals to fayre fit for a prime minister, every page delivers recipes inspired by her family’s experience of over a hundred years of army life. Published by Gomer Press. www.gomer.co.uk