Among all of the beautiful sights at the farmer’s market and supermarkets this time of year, the stack of leafy green and crisp white leeks holds a special space. For most of my life, I associated leeks with vichyssoise, the chilled potato leek soup, served on hot summer days. Just the name itself always intimidated me, and I put it in the category of things only prepared by a professional chef. These leek patties are simple and delicious and leave me feeling a bit more like a chef.
Thanks to my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm and many conversations with farmers at the market, I have developed quite a friendship with the lovely leek. Other than vichyssoise, leeks turn up often in mire pox, bouillion, and soffrito, which are the foundations of many soups and sauces. However, we will save those ideas for another day and delve into the less well-known, but equally scrumptious, Leek Patties.
I found this recipe in The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane. This is Marguerite’s 6th North End cookbook and in each edition, her recipes are gifts from Italian American immigrants and long-time residents of this beloved Little Italy in Boston. I had the pleasure of meeting Marguerite during my last visit to the North End. She was so warm and welcoming and promised me a pasta-making lesson. I hope to make it back to the North End someday.
For now, I can work my way through Marguerite’s recipes and dream of Galleria Umberto’s, Regina’s Pizzeria, Caffè Paradiso, and all the old-time eating establishments of my Italian American roots.
Enjoy and buon appetito!
- 4 leeks, dark green leaves removed, thinly sliced
- 4 slices Italian bread, baggette, or sourdough, cubed
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- ½ cup semolina flour
- 1 onion, thickly sliced
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the sliced leeks in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes, until tender.
- Meanwhile, soak the cubed bread in the milk and set aside.
- Drain the leeks and in a mixing bowl, combine with bread, egg, and salt and pepper. Be sure to squeeze the excess milk from the bread before adding to the leek mixture. Stir well.
- Divide the leek mixture into 6 equal patties. Dip both sides in flour. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and add sliced onion. Saute on medium until fragrant and it begins to soften, being careful not to burn. Remove onion from oil and save the onion another use.
- Keep the onion infused oil on the heat and add the leek patties. Fry on medium for 5 mintes per side, until a crispy golden brown. Again, adjust the heat so as not to burn the patties. When done, place patties on a paper towel to absorb any excess olive oil.Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Serve with yogurt, masharpone cheese, or as part of an antipasto platter.