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Creamy leek o'gratin

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Leeks have a long history as a beloved vegetable. Mostly just the white and light green parts are eaten, though the darker green parts have plenty of flavor and can either be cooked longer to tenderize them, or used when making homemade soup stock. The challenge when cooking with leeks is that they are almost always dirty. When leeks are grown, soil is piled up around them, so that more of the leek is hidden from the sun, and therefore lighter in color and more tender. What produces a beautiful leek, a long pale body, also results in sand and dirt been lodged deep inside the leek. Leeks are a sturdy backbone to many recipes and they also makes a tasteful side addition coming from your garden to the table.

This o'gratin is a 30 minute meal recipe for creamed leek topped with whole-wheat bread crumbs.

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Ingredients

2 slices bacon

2 tsp olive oil

4 1/2 cups sliced, cleaned leeks (white and pale-green parts from 1 1/2 lb whole leeks)

1/4 cup half-and-half

3/4 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs

3/4 cup grated gruyere

1 tsp minced garlic

Directions

1. Cook 2 slices bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, crumble, and reserve.

2. Wipe fat from skillet, add 2 tsp olive oil, and heat over medium heat.

3. Add 4 1/2 cups sliced, cleaned leeks (white and pale-green parts from 1 1/2 lb whole leeks) and cook, stirring, until very tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Add 1/4 cup half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Transfer to broiler-safe gratin dish.

5. Toss together 3/4 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, 3/4 cup grated Gruyere, and 1 tsp minced garlic. Sprinkle over leeks and broil 8" from heat until crumbs are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Top with crumbled bacon.

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