It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived this many years without cooking leeks, but better late than never. I bought a three-pack this summer, and I could almost regret waiting so long! They are a bit fun to prep as well. Slice off the green top, slice vertically, then slice horizontally. My favorite part? Dumping the sliced bits in water to wash them. I find the color and patterns of the curved pieces lovely.
I came up with this recipe like I so often do … by using up what happens to be in the house. Now that the weather is cooler again, I’ve started making batches of Artisan Bread Dough. As summer neared its end, I started craving pizza. I even pondered calzones, although I’ve not eaten one in years. I wanted something tasty … but in a healthier package. Now, you could throw some sausage, pepperoni, or gooey cheese into this recipe if you wanted to, but it’s quite satisfying with the leek, garlic and spinach concoction I created. The seasoning mix is what gives it that pizza-sauce, sausage-spice vibe that sated my cravings.
Dear, sweet husband looked suspiciously at me (“What is this?”) when I unexpectedly presented these delights, which offer the versatility of being plated or handheld. No worries. This meat-loving man raved about his meal so much I had to make it a second time that week. I’ve got my eyes on a portobello mushroom filling for a future dinner. Mmmm…. portobello mushrooms.
I prepared the bread dough and vegetable filling mix ahead of time, which made the dinner prep quicker. As for shaping the bread dough, I don’t try to make this look pretty; I just fashion the filled dough a la a ”hot pocket,“ only larger. Like I said, quick and easy. It’s not for looks, although you could take time to make something lovely should you so desire.
Sub out the cheese and you’ve got a vegan meal rather than just vegetarian. Reduce salt for a lower sodium version. Add a little meat (say, Italian sausage, or chicken) for a non-vegetarian version.
I served this with a side salad, but you could carb load with a pasta dish or try it with a soup.
“I ate and drank slowly as one should (cook fast, eat slowly) and without distractions such as (thank heavens) conversation or reading. Indeed eating is so pleasant one should even try to suppress thought. Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too. How fortunate we are to be food-consuming animals. Every meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger. ”― Iris Murdoch
Four orange-sized pieces of Artisan Bread Dough
For vegetable filling (can be made ahead):
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 lb of fresh spinach, or 1/2 C of cooked spinach, unsalted
For seasoning (for dried seasonings, can be made ahead):
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
For individual stuffed bread filling:
1 to 1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
4 tsp vegetable filling
1 tsp seasonings
2 tsp parmesan or cotija cheese
Scant olive oil (to drizzle)
For egg wash (optional):
One egg or egg white of one egg, as desired)
Prep time: About 2 hours, if dough is pre-made
Yields: about 4 -5 pieces
For vegetable filling:
Slice green top off leek, slice leek in half vertically, then slice halves horizontally.
Drop slices in bowl of water. Dirt will settle to bottom.
Wash spinach. Remove stems if desired.
NOTE: if using fresh basil or parsley, add it to this mixture.
Add grapeseed or other neutral oil to pan and heat to medium.
Add leeks, allowing to soften. Add garlic. Continue cooking until both soften and the aroma is released.
Add spinach. Cook until spinach wilts.
Remove from heat and set aside.
For seasoning, combine all dry seasonings and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grab an orange sized piece of dough and place on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll to about 1/4 inch thick in a rectangular shape.
Spread tomato paste on dough, leaving edges free for rolling and folding.
Spread leek and spinach mix on dough.
Sprinkle seasonings over mix.
Sprinkle cheese over mix.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Fold bread in half, then roll and seal edges with a pinch.
Repeat until desired amount of breads has been completed.
Brush egg wash over the dough, then sprinkle each with scant sea salt, sesame seeds and seasoning mix.
Place on baking sheet and place in preheated oven.
TIP: Use silicon mat or parchment paper for easy clean-up. I use my silicon mat for prep and transfer onto the baking sheet.
Bake 25-30 minutes. Bread will be a gentle brown.
Let cool slightly, and serve warm.
Serve as a stand-alone meal or heavy snack or as part of a larger dinner. Great with a a salad or soup. When in season, a plate of tomato and onion drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette would be a suitable accompaniment.