When I was a little girl, I remember very clearly that fruits & vegetables were very seasonal. Winter time meant lots of cabbage, leek, and spinach dishes. I try to cook as often as I can with seasonal products. However, living in Florida adds some challenges to that because of the tropical weather. Today I’m sharing with you my Mediterranean Leek Casserole recipe. It does have ground beef and rice but I’ll share some modifications in addition to the main recipe in case you need to adapt it for keto or vegetarian diets (see Eating Lifestyles post for more definitions).Jump to Recipe
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Healthy Benefits of Leeks
Leeks are a great source of antioxidants. They are shown to help with heart related issues and have cancer fighting qualities. This vegetable is a great source of Vitamin K and Vitamin B6. Leeks also have lots of manganese, copper, iron, folic acid etc.
I was surprised at how a lot of people I know are unfamiliar with leeks. They look like a green onion on steroids. Even though they come from the same family as onions and garlic, they have a lot milder taste. Leeks won’t make your eyes tear and your mouth smell:). But they still do carry a lot of the health benefits that onions and garlic have!! So load up on leeks!! Casseroles are an awesome way to increase your leek consumption.
Prepping Leeks for Casserole
Leeks need to be cleaned and prepped before cooking. Because of the way they grow they can accumulate dirt under the layers so that’s why they need to be cleaned carefully. I usually cut the white part, remove a thin slice from the top and then remove a layer or two. I wash it and put it aside. Then the ‘tail’ part, the green part of the leek is cleaned and washed thoroughly layer by layer. You can choose to include the green part on the casserole or cook them separately for another dish.
Recipe Modifications (Includes Keto and Vegan options)
Please follow recipe steps below to cook the casserole. My husband is currently doing a low carb diet so in order not to cook 2 separate dinners, I did the following. I did everything the same until step 7, then before adding rice I separated part of the leek mixture in a separate, smaller baking dish and baked that separately in the toaster over for 35 minutes.
If you would like a vegetarian/vegan version of this casserole, then don’t include the ground beef, double the rice to 1 cup instead of half a cup and replace the broth with vegetable broth.
Serving Suggestions for Leek Casserole
In Albania we eat this dish with toasted bread and sprinkled with fresh lemon on top. See below an example. Enjoy:)
You can serve this dish with a fresh salad or a light soup to start with. In that case, chances are you’ll have plenty of leftovers. This dish tastes better the next day because the flavors have had time to really work together. I have never frozen the leftovers so I don’t know if it holds frozen.
Mediterranean Leek Casserole – Albanian Tave Me Presh Recipe
This easy leek casserole is amazing!! If you have never tried leeks, it might take you a while to like this dish. But I hope you give it a try. It’s healthy and delicious:).
If you are not a fan of casseroles, there’s a way to make this into a stew instead of baking it. I’ll have to do it again so I can give you exact cooking times. To make it into a leek stew, use meat chunks instead of ground beef. Don’t include rice in the recipe. Follow all steps pretty closely up to number 8. There’s no point in separating for keto since you’re not adding rice. Add water or broth then cook until ready. Don’t stir too often and cook in low temperatures.
Mediterranean Leek Casserole – Tave Me Presh
- 8 Leeks
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 can diced tomatoes (about 14 oz) use fresh when possible
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 0.5 tsp black pepper
- 0.5 tsp paprika
- pinch salt /pepper to taste
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup broth
- 0.5 cups uncooked rice
- 2 cups hot water
- I used 8 leeks for a 10X14 baking glass dish and a smaller personal size dish. I separated the green part of the leek for another dish I’ll cook next week. If you would like to use the whole vegetable, then you might need only 5-6 leeks for this dish.
- Clean and prep the leeks. You can put them in a pot of fresh water and cut them in medallion shapes, about 1 inch thick.
- Saute thinly chopped onion and garlic in olive oil.
- Add ground beef and cook until browned. Add chopped bell pepper.
- Pour the diced tomatoes over and mix well, let cook in medium heat for few minutes.
- Add chopped leeks on top.
- Add oregano, parsley, pepper, salt and paprika. Also, you add broth at this time. Mix carefully using a wooden spoon so you don't affect leeks' cylindrical shape.
- At this point, separate part of the leek meal to bake separately if someone in your family eats only keto or low carb.
- Add rice and 1-2 cups of hot water. You don’t want it to look like a soup, but you don’t want the leek mixture to be too dry either because we still have to bake it.
- Let cook for about 10 minutes. Then pour on the baking dish, even out the top and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
- For keto option don’t include rice and bake as is. You might need to add less water at the end so the casserole is not too liquid.
- For vegan option, don’t include ground beef, double the rice and add an extra cup of water. You can replace broth with vegetable broth.
- Other modifications include to replace ground beef with chunks of meat, beef, lamb etc according to preference.
If you would like to save this Leek Casserole recipe for later, please save the below image to Pinterest:
Other Mediterranean Recipes:
If you would like to check my other Mediterranean recipes please check out the below links:
- Stuffed Peppers
- Mediterranean Asparagus Soup
- Tarragon Chicken In White Wine Sauce
- Mediterranean Potato Salad
- Baked Mediterranean Branzino