Introducing a classic Croatian side dish: creamy leek and potatoes sautéed in white wine with a hint of Parmesan. It’s super easy and quick to prepare!
Leek and potato is a classic combination enjoyed across numerous European countries, and each region lends its own unique spin to this duo. It finds its place in various culinary creations, including soups, main courses, and side dishes. This recipe takes inspiration from a simple traditional Croatian side dish, evoking memories from my childhood when my mum used to prepare it with an Italian influence.
The classic Croatian version comes from the northern seaside and is characterized by the use of sweet paprika, leaving out Parmesan and white wine. My mum used to serve it exclusively with beef polpette (mini burgers, oval meatballs), but this makes for a perfect side dish that pairs well with various meats and fish, such as this yummy Salmon in spicy Med-Asian fusion sauce.
- leek – When preparing leeks, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean them. Leeks tend to trap dirt between their layers. It is usually only a few top layers so just carefully cut along the leek and remove them couple of outer layers, rinse well, and drain. Use as much of the green parts of leeks as they not only impart a rich taste but also contribute to the texture and lovely colour of the dish.
- potato – Choose Maris Piper potatoes if in the UK or Russet potatoes in the USA for the creamiest texture. In general, choose floury potatoes as they tend to break down slightly during cooking, enhancing the overall creaminess of the dish. To ensure even and fast cooking, cut the potatoes into small chunks or cubes.
- Parmesan cheese – It serves as a fantastic flavour enhancer in this dish. Its rich, nutty, and slightly salty taste complements the leeks and potatoes. If you don’t have Parmesan on hand, feel free to experiment with other types of hard cheese that possess an intense flavour, such as Pecorino Romano or aged (vintage) Cheddar.
- white wine – Whether you opt for a sweet or dry white wine, both work perfectly to elevate the taste of the whole dish. It’s important to note that no alcohol remains in the final dish as it completely evaporates during the cooking process, making it entirely safe for all, including kids. What’s left behind is a lovely hint of the wine’s character, enhancing the overall flavour profile.
- leeks – as a substitute for leeks, consider using kale. While kale brings a slightly different flavour and texture to the dish, it can add a nutritious and earthy twist to this classic recipe.
- white wine – As an alternative to white wine, you can use vegetable stock, which adds a rich, savoury depth to the dish.
- Parmesan cheese – Instead of Parmesan, feel free to get creative with your choice of cheese or even experiment with unsalted butter, or go all out and combine both to enrich this leek and potato side dish.
Cooking & Tips
Slice the leeks into thin strips and dice the potatoes into small chunks for a quicker cooking time. Ensure that enough liquid evaporates to achieve the desired consistency for serving as a side dish. You can make it as thick as mashed potatoes or slightly runny, depending on what you plan to pair it with.
- Cheesy Twist: Add grated cheddar or Gruyère cheese to enhance the creamy texture.
- Herb Infusion: Experiment with fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or chives to infuse different flavours into the dish. These herbs can add a lovely aromatic quality.
- Vegan and Dairy-Free: If you’re looking for a vegan or dairy-free option, you can use plant-based substitutes such as vegan cheese or nutritional yeast to achieve that creamy texture.
- Spice It Up: For a bit of heat, consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce. This variation can give your dish a fiery kick.
Presentation & Serving
For presentation and serving, this leek and potato dish pairs wonderfully with various main courses. In this instance, I served it with succulent salmon, accompanied by a Mediterranean-Asian fusion spicy sauce that adds an extra layer of excitement to the meal.
However, don’t limit yourself – this side dish is incredibly versatile and can complement an array of dishes. It’s a fantastic accompaniment for roasts, meat patties, or burgers. The leek and potato side dish also goes perfectly with fish dishes. Why not try it with fish fingers for a quick and easy simple but tasty dinner?
Leek and potato side dish Croatian style
- 1 leek - large
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2-3 tbsp parsley
- 150 ml white wine
- 250-300 ml water
- 2 potatoes - large
- 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- salt - to taste
- olive oil
- Use the whole leek, both white and green parts. Slice the leeks into thin rings and finely chop the onion.
- Heat oil in a pot and add the leeks along with the onion and half of the chopped parsley. Sauté at medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring. Don't let leeks to brown. Add the garlic in the last minute.
- Pour in the wine and water, add peeled potatoes cut into small cubes. Season with salt.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are completely tender, and the liquid evaporates.
- When done, add grated Parmesan cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and the remaining parsley. Stir well.