This Mother's Day, I wanted to make something along the lines of a quiche for brunch, but didn't want the hassle of making a crust. Then it occurred to me that when I feel this way about a fruit tart, I make a clafouti. I had some lovely tender leeks from the Saturday Farmers Market, so I decided to try making a savory clafouti. And because I had cherries on my mind from the classical cherry clafouti, I decided to pair these with some roasted cherry tomatoes.
I tossed the cherry tomatoes in olive oil and the leaves of four marjoram sprigs and let them cook in the oven for about half an hour until they had collapsed from the heat and gave off a fragrant, roasted smell. Next I prepared the clafouti batter, which is really just a crepe batter that can be made in a blender and is best left to sit for a few minutes. Because I happened to have some in the house, I used a mixture of cream and milk for a special Mother's Day treat, but straight milk would work fine.
Then I cleaned and chopped the leeks. Getting out the dirt that accumulates between a leek's layers can be tricky, not unlike excavating the sand that accumulate in a toddler's clothing after a romp in the playground, but in this case is best approaches by cutting a slit down the side and splaying apart the layers under running water. I sauteed the leek rounds in butter until they were soft, and then, remembering how a splash of fruit liquor enhances a dessert clafouti, I finished them off with a jigger of dry white vermouth.
Now it was time to assemble the clafouit. Julia Child's dessert recipe has you cook a layer of batter on the bottom of the pan, like a crepe.
Then I layered on the leeks, crumbled on some goat cheese, topped these with the roasted cherry tomatoes and their accumulated pan juices, and poured on the batter.
I baked the clafouit at 350 degrees for almost an hour, until it was golden on top and a fork came out clean. The final dish was deliciously light and satisfying. The leeks and tomatoes were naturally quite sweet, so the dish wasn't too far off from its dessert cousin, but still decidedly in the savory camp. Because it was for Mother's Day, I garnished the final dish with fresh chopped chives: little baby leeks.
Savory Leek and Cherry Tomato Clafouti
for the clafouti batter:
for the leek filling:
- 6 slender leeks
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 4 sprigs marjoram
- drizzle of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided use
- 1/4 cup dry white vermouth
- 2 to 3 ounces mild goat cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an oven dish or skillet, toss together the cherry tomatoes and marjoram leaves from 4 sprigs with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place in the oven and roast, jiggling the pan occasionally to turn the tomatoes, for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes have collapsed and are very fragrant.
- Meanwhile, prepare the clafouti batter. In a blender, mix the milk, eggs, and flour and a pinch of salt. Drizzle in the melted butter. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes before using.
- Remove the roots and most of the green parts of the leeks. Cut a slit down the length of each leek so that you can fan apart the layers, and wash them thoroughly to remove accumulated dirt. Cut them into 1/4 inch rings. Heat a large ovenproof skillet or paella pan and add 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter froths, add the leeks, salt, and pepper, and cook over medium heat until they are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the white vermouth and cook this down. Remove the leeks to a dish and return the skillet to the stovetop.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and swirl to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour a thin film of batter into the bottom of the pan and swirl to spread, as if you were making a crepe. Let the batter cook until it turns from pale white to a more yellowish color. Turn off the heat and assemble the clafouti. Spread on the leeks, and then crumble over the goat cheese. Distribute the roasted tomatoes and pour over any accumulated pan juices. Finally pour over the rest of the clafouti batter and transfer the pan to the oven.
- Bake the clafouti for 50-60 minutes until it is nicely browned on top and a fork poked into the center comes out clean. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.