Weeknight Cooking

Grilled Cheese + Buttery Braised Leeks

September  2, 2013

We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there. 

Today: When you're looking to make a substantial meatless meal, look no further than the herbivore's holy trinity: starch, protein, and vegetables.

  Buttery Braised Leeks with a Crispy Panko Topping from Food52

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If you're wondering what to make for a vegetarian meal, look no further than the herbivore's holy trinity: starch, protein, and vegetables. This meatless dinner hits all 3 marks -- and only dirties 2 pans along the way. Made with sourdough bread and melty cheese, this sandwich will fill up even the hungriest omnivore. Round out the meal with something green: braised leeks that are everything a vegetable side dish should be.

This menu makes the perfect amount for one person, so either double the recipe or do as we suggest and take a night to yourself. You'll probably have leftover leeks when you've finished, and a good amount of extra bread and cheese, too, but that's ok. It just means you can do the whole thing again tomorrow night.

The Menu

Take advantage of our handy grocery list and game plan, or click the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes.

Ode to the Caseus Cheese Truck by mrslarkin

Ode to the Caseus Cheese Truck from Food52

Buttery Braised Leeks with a Crispy Panko Topping by for the love of the south

Buttery Braised Leeks with a Crispy Panko Topping from Food52

The Grocery List

Serves 1, with leftover leeks

2 leeks
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
A loaf of sourdough bread
4 fresh sage leaves
2 ounces shredded or thinly-sliced soft or semi-hard melty cheese

You probably already have butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a lemon in your kitchen. If not, you'll be needing those, too.

The Plan 

1. Trim the leeks and cut them in half lengthwise. Melt a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, then place the leeks cut side down on the pan to brown for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip them over, turn the heat to low, cover, and leave for 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the panko topping. Combine the panko with parsley, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toast in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown, then set aside. 

3. Generously butter one side of 2 slices of bread. Stick two sage leaves into the buttered side of each piece of bread, then lay one slice on a hot non-stick skillet, butter side down. 

4. Place the cheese on top, then top with the second side of bread, butter side up. Grill until the butter's sizzling and the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown. 

5. Flip the sandwich and cook for another few minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then flip the sandwich back over to crisp the Parmesan. Sprinkle the top with more Parmesan, flip, and brown. 

6. Take the leeks off the heat -- they should be soft all the way through -- and squirt the juice of half a lemon over them. Add salt and pepper, sprinkle with the panko topping, then start your dinner. 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Stacy
  • JohnSkye
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Stacy October 25, 2013
This looks wonderful! Can't wait to try it.
JohnSkye September 2, 2013
sounds ok, but leeks are notoriously sandy and gritty, with a lot of dirt often getting in between the layers, especially down from the top ... this recipe seems a little short on how to check for this dirt and deal with what you find ...a cook unfamiliar with leeks could be in for a gritty surprise.
Sarah J. September 2, 2013
Thanks for pointing this out, JohnSkye. Leeks can definitely be gritty and dirty. Readers who want more information on how to prepare leeks can click through the full recipe (http://food52.com/recipes/20302-buttery-braised-leeks-with-a-crispy-panko-topping) or refer to this other leek dish: http://food52.com/recipes/16946-sweet-pea-and-leek-pancakes. Thank you!