In what’s becoming a weekend ritual, I recently identified yet another random vegetable peeking up through the weeds in our yard: leeks. They were in the corner I’ve been ignoring, in with the irises and sorrel and who knows what else; they’d been shy about muscling past the daffodil greens and I’d somehow just missed them. On Sunday I was down on my hands and knees trimming something else back so the (what I think are) calla lillies can grow, and an unmistakeable leek reek wafted up my nose.
So just as the rhubarb attack subsides, I now have an abundance of leeks. Want some?
Recipe for Flaky Leek, Bacon & Mascarpone Tart
Recipe 128 of 365
Layers of phyllo dough, pressed gently into a fluted metal tart pan and allowed to fan out willy-nilly above the edge of the pan, give this tart a unique presentation and a lighter texture than most creamy, eggy versions. Use just leeks, or any combination of leeks, spring onions, ramps, garlic shoots, or scallions that the spring provides.
TIME: 30 minutes, plus baking time
MAKES: 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 packed cups (about 1 1/4 pounds) chopped leeks, green and white parts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 slices thick-cut bacon
Olive oil spray
6 full sheets phyllo dough, fully thawed, from a 1 pound box
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat a large high-sided skillet or soup pot over medium-low heat. When hot, add the oil, then the leeks, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes. When done, remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9” metal tart pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom (or substitute a pie tin) with the olive oil spray, and place it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Stack the six sheets of phyllo dough on a cutting board, and cut them in half, so you have 12 smaller pieces of the same shape (rather than 12 long, skinny pieces).
Place one sheet into the tart pan, and use your hands to press the dough into the corners of the pan. Spray the phyllo sheet with the olive oil spray all over, all the way to the edges.
Place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first, perpendicular to the first so that the entire bottom of the tart pan is covered. Pat the second sheet into place and spray it, then repeat with the remaining 10 layers of phyllo, placing them all at different angles so that there’s about the same amount of dough hanging over on all sides of the pan. Using your fingers, tuck the bottommost layers of phyllo (that may be sticking to the outside edge of the tart pan) back into the pan, to reinforce the edges.
Stir the mascarpone cheese, eggs, and heavy cream together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the crumbled bacon and the cooked leeks. Pour this leek mixture into the prepared crust, and bake on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the leek mixture has puffed and set.
Cool the tart for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.