Leeks in Cheese Sauce is our favourite British vegetarian side dish, also known as Cheesy Leeks.
This easy Leeks in Cheese Sauce recipe features tender vegetables swimming in cream, flavoured with nutmeg, mustard and Worcestershire Sauce. The traditional casserole is topped with cheddar, parmesan, Boursin Garlic cream cheese and homemade breadcrumbs.
Once out of the oven, our luscious Cheesy Leeks feature a crunchy gratin crust. A quick and delicious side dish paired with roast chicken, turkey or beef.
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What Are Leeks?
Leeks look like scallions, but they’re much larger. Like onions and other members of the Allium family, leeks are a bulbous vegetable with white flesh and leafy green tops. The bulb, however, is not round, but just slightly larger than the stem nearest the roots. The more rounded the bulb, the older the leek.
Their mild flavour and ease of preparation make the vegetable a favourite addition to soups, casseroles, and chicken dishes, as well as a simple side dish when gently sautéed. Look for the best leeks of the year at your local farmers market starting in autumn and enjoy them all the way through spring.
What Are Cheesy Leeks?
Cheesy leeks, also known as Leeks in Cheese Sauce, are a traditional British side dish.
Authentic Cheesy Leeks typically require the cook to sauté vegetables in fat (such as butter or olive oil) and are muddled together with either a cream based sauce or mornay (grated cheese mixed into a béchamel sauce).
You can make a simple Leeks in Cheese Sauce recipe with just 4 or 5 ingredients or flavour the dish with mustard, nutmeg, Worcestershire Sauce and even a few glugs of your favourite wine or craft beer.
The tender buttery leeks are topped with shredded parmesan and cheddar as well as dollops of cream cheese. The Garlic Boursin melts into the casserole, enriching the sauce with garlicky flavour, while the cheddar and parmesan crisp up in the oven, dusted with homemade breadcrumbs.
The finished product, our luscious Leeks in Cheese Sauce casserole, features soft leeks swimming in cream and topped with crunchy gratin.
Travel to the Britain by Cooking Leeks in Cheese Sauce at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to the United Kingdom is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in London are unique to what you’d find in Belfast, Hampshire, Brighton, Southampton, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Skye or Islay.
If you’re visiting Britain on holiday you’ll find cheesy leeks on many restaurant menus, from large cities to small towns. Classic Leeks in Cheese Sauce is commonly served with chicken dishes or roast beef.
Once back home from a British holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of the United Kingdom and can impress friends and family by making our easy Cheesy Leeks recipe at home.
Where To Eat Authentic Cheesy Leeks
Haven’t traveled to the United Kingdom before? It may be helpful to first sample Cheesy Leeks at a local restaurant to better understand how the side dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the desired tenderness of the vegetables and the amount and type of cheese to sprinkle on top for the gratin. You’ll also find inspiration on what to pair with Cheesy Leeks, such as roasted beet salad, roast chicken and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
In Toronto, popular British restaurants that may serve Leeks in Cheese Sauce include The Queen and Beaver, The Oxley, Olde Yorke Fish & Chips, Caledonian, Scotland Yard, The Bishop and Belcher and The Artful Dodger.
My Family Loves Our Leeks in Cheese Sauce Recipe
We’d have a light lunch in anticipation of a larger Sunday roast, often served with side dishes like broccoli and cauliflower gratin, spiced pumpkin and cheesy leeks.
The following day at lunch, we’d remove the leftovers from the fridge and warm them in the oven until the cream bubbles. Leftover cheesy leeks taste great slathered on gourmet crackers or a slice of sourdough bread.
During October in Ontario we’d often visit popular Fall Fairs in Norfolk County, Niagara and Prince Edward County to go on fun rides, run through corn mazes and purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables at the peak of harvest season.
Leeks, garlic, thyme, milk and cheese are available in abundance year round in Canada but we especially love to serve this savoury side dish during the colder months of the year.
Our Leeks in Cheese Sauce recipe is the ultimate side dish for onion lovers who have a penchant for cream and cheese.
Cheesy Leeks Health Benefits
Our homemade Cheesy Leeks recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Leeks are a member of the onion family, a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of leeks can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Rich in energy-boosting manganese and anti-inflamatory phytochemicals, thyme may help keep your blood and immune system healthy.
Nutmeg is said to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function and improve blood circulation.
Tips For Leeks in Cheese Sauce
This quick and easy British side dish is easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for newbie leek lovers.
- Use a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven to sauté and bake our cheesy leeks.
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the skillet.
- Feel free to get creative with your Leeks in Cheese Sauce recipe by substituting Garlic Boursin with other cheeses that melt well such as brie, camembert, gorgonzola, Tomme de Grosse-Ile, Cabriole or Le Riopelle de I’Isle.
- You can also substitute aged cheeses like cheddar and parmesan for Gouda, Vache Maigre, Gruyere, Piave Stravecchio, Louis d’Or, Ossau-Iraty Brebis, Manchego, Beemster XO or Mimolette.
- You can also chose to flavour your cheesy leeks with a few glugs of wine, craft beer, sherry or vermouth. If you’re thinning out the sauce with the addition of alcohol, add a bit more whipping cream to achieve the desired consistency.
What To Serve with Cheesy Leeks in Cheese Sauce
If you’re hosting a large dinner party you might want to serve our easy cheesy leeks gratin casserole as a side dish paired with a meaty main. We love serving Leeks in Cheese Sauce at special occasions with Christmas roast beef, Thanksgiving turkey and Easter ham.
We suggest doubling the recipe so you can indulge in leftovers. You can enjoy cheesy leeks the day after your feast as a cold side dish or warmed up and slathered on baguette. It pairs well with a bowl of soup, fresh salad, gourmet crackers, artisanal cheese board and homemade pickles.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.
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Storing Cheesy Leeks
If you have leftover Leeks in Cheese Sauce Gratin you can store the casserole dish or skillet in the fridge covered in plastic wrap. Or scoop out the leftovers and store them in an airtight container for up to a week. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or crisp up in the oven.
We love doubling our recipe so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover Leeks in Cheese Sauce in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling.
Be sure to let the leeks reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot container to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.
How To Make Cheesy Leeks in Cheese Sauce
Leeks in Cheese Sauce British Cheesy Leeks
- French knife
- Casserole dish
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- cheese grater
- 6 Leeks
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 5 sprigs Fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 1/2 cup Whipping Cream
- 1/4 cup Sherry
- 100 g Old Cheddar Cheese
- 50 g Parmesan Cheese
- 100 g Garlic Boursin Cream Cheese
- 2 tbsp Milk
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsp Breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Trim, wash and slice the leeks, about 2 cm thick. Peel and slice the garlic, and pluck the thyme leaves.
- Put a large skillet on medium heat and add a drizzle of oil, the butter, thyme leaves and garlic.
- Sautée until they start to bubble and sizzle, then stir in the leeks.
- Turn the heat down and cook the leeks (stirring every 5-10 minutes) for approximately 35 minutes, or until soft and tender.
- Stir in the cream, milk, sherry, mustard, Worcestershire and ground nutmeg. Transfer to oven-safe casserole dish.
- Top with grated Cheddar and Parmesan and teaspoon sized scoops of cream cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
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