Leeks Fonduta with Whole Grain Pasta

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Winter is slowly leaving, and unfortunately leeks season is leaving at the same time…But fear not, here comes the perfect recipe for one last serving of leeks for this winter 😉 I love this member of the onion family so much. The green color makes every dish look so fresh, and you can basically combine it with every side dish, you can think of. (Remember the leeks Tart I posted the other day?) This time the lovely leeks are combined with whole grain pasta and a strong cheese sauce, called fonduta.

I found the recipe on the Swiss blog lamiacucina.com when I was looking for a recipe that featured leeks and hazelnuts. A fonduta is very similar to a cheese fondue, but in this case it was gratinated in the oven before serving. You can very well serve this dish as a starter, like it was apparently intended in the first place, simply by leaving out the pasta, and maybe adapting the cheese to leeks ratio. Let me know about your experiences in the comments!

Ingredients (serves 2):

For the sauce: For everything else:
 120 g strong cheese (e.g. Bergkäse)  300 g leeks
 1oo ml milk  30 g chopped hazelnuts
 20 g butter  40 g shallots
 1-2 egg yolk  1 tbsp flour
 salt, pepper, nutmeg  100 ml vegetable broth
 1 tbsp whipping cream  salt, pepper, nutmeg
 150 g of whole grain pasta

Preparations beforehand:
Grate the cheese finely, add the milk and soak it for some hours.

Transfer cheese, milk and butter to a sauce pan and SLOWLY heat it up to 80°C in a double boiler. Whisk permanently with a egg beater until the cheese is entirely dissolved. It is very important that you heat it up slowly, such that the cheese will blend into the milk. If it turns lumpy, add some lemon juice or alcohol (like white wine) to the sauce. Whisk in the egg yolks. Season with salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg and put aside.

Cook the pasta. In the meantime you can prepare the leeks. Wash and cut the leeks into small pieces. Chop the shallots. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the hazelnuts. When the butter starts to foam add the onions and the leeks and steam for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir it under. Add vegetable broth and spices and let it cook for about 7-8 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Take half of the fonduta (the cheese sauce) and stir it under the leeks. Stir the whipping cream under the remaining half of the fonduta. Grease a gratin dish and transfer the pasta to the dish as a lower layer. Mix with 2 table spoons of the fonduta. Add the leeks to the paste and distribute the remaining fonduta evenly on the surface. Gratinate at 220°C for about 10 minutes until the surface turns golden brown.

Tip: To serve this gratin as a main course, I added the whole grain pasta to make it more filling. If you would like to serve the dish as a starter, just leave out the pasta and serve with some fresh whole grain bread. The fonduta can be prepared for several dishes in advance, since you can keep it in the fridge for at least a week 😉


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