Grilled Leeks with Parmesan Cream

This week’s recipe takes advantage of members of the allium family, baby leeks (one-inch diameter max), and steams them in a microwave oven before grilling them with a Parmesan cream. Use a baking or gratin dish that holds the leeks snugly and that can travel straight from microwave to broiler. Done in a flash, with a minimum of washing up.

Grilled Leeks with Parmesan Cream

6 small leeks, trimmed, with a little tender green left on
1 Tbs. soft room-temperature butter
salt, pepper, grated nutmeg
about 1 cup very finely grated aged Parmesan cheese
¾ (three-quarters) cup heavy cream

Wash leeks thoroughly. Up-end whole trimmed leeks in a jug (or pot) of water to let silt drop out from between the leaves, swishing them around for good measure. Drain and halve leeks lengthways. Holding each half to keep it intact, carefully part outer leaves for a final inspection and rinse under running water if silt–traces remain. Arrange in a microwave-and-oven-safe dish that holds leaks snugly, cut side down. Brush with soft butter, season with salt and pepper, and pour over ¼ (quarter) cup water.  Microwave, covered but vented, on high for 2 minutes. Cool slightly, carefully turn over leeks, and microwave under cover for another 2 minutes. Turn leeks again, and microwave, covered, in one- minute increments until leeks are perfectly tender. (If dish dries out at any point, moisten with a tablespoon or so of water.)

Meanwhile simmer cream in a small pan to slightly reduce it. Season with nutmeg, cool slightly, and gradually stir half the cheese (freshly and finely grated.) into warm cream to make a sauce. Check seasoning, and spoon any liquid from the leek dish into cream. Pour cream over leeks, sprinkle with more grated cheese, and slide under a pre-heated broiler until top is flecked golden-brown. Serves 2 as a vegetarian dish, and up to 4 as a side-dish or starter.

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