Low-carb leek recipes this winter

Delicious winter veg dishes without the winter weight

One of my favourite winter vegetables are leeks, which are in season now right through April. These veggies are packed with vitamins and are delicious when served with ham and cheese. Since January is here, and we're all trying to lose a few extra pounds after the festive period, here are my favourite low carb recipes using this delicious and often unsung vegetable.

Ragu and leek bake (serves 4 people)

4 medium leeks - washed and sliced

3 cups of pre-prepared ragu/meat sauce (see recipe here)

2 tbspns crème fraiche

2 oz grated cheese - cheddar or parmesan

Knob of butter

Salt and pepper

1. Put a thick layer of ragu (meat sauce) in the bottom of a baking dish (my family recipe here).

2. Cover with a layer of gently sautéed chopped leeks that have first been washed and drained and cooked in butter, salt and pepper.

3. Smother over the crème fraiche and then sprinkle over the cheese.

4. Bake in the oven at 180° for about 20 minutes until the cheese topping bubbles.

Ham and leek frittata (serves 1-2 people)

1 medium leek washed and sliced

A handful of good ham - off the bone - into bit size chunks.

3 free range eggs, whisked

1. Sauté the leeks in a frying pan in a little butter until they soften.

2. Add the ham and toss through.

3. Pour the egg mixture over the ham and leeks and cook on a medium heat until the bottom of the frittata starts to brown.

4. Quickly finish off by putting the pan under a hot grill to cook the top of the frittata.

5. Serve immediately.

Baby leeks wrapped in pancetta

12 baby leeks

6 slices of parma ham or pancetta

Olive oil

4 tbspns passata

Black pepper

1. Blanch the leeks in boiling water for 2 minutes and drain them.

2. Wrap the ham around each leek and place on a baking tray. (You can cut the ham slices in half lengthways - there will be plenty to wrap around each leek).

3. Drizzle with olive oil, season pepper, and place in the oven at 180° for about 15 minutes until the leeks are soft and the ham is crispy.

4. While they bake, heat the passata (tomato sauce) in a saucepan.

5. Remove the leeks from the oven and serve with the tomato sauce.

6. This is a main dish for 2 or can be served as a side dish for 4 people.

Creamed leeks with chestnuts and chives

2 medium leeks

1 tbspn double cream

1 cup of peeled chestnuts

Handful of snipped chives

Salt and pepper

Knob of butter

1. Wash and slice the leeks and sauté in a pan with a knob of butter until soft.

2. Add the double cream, salt and pepper and stir through.

3. Crumble in the cooked, peeled chestnuts (you can buy them vacuum packed, in a tin or roast them yourself. If you do roast them yourself make sure you cut a slit in each one first or they could explode in the oven).

4. Toss the chestnuts in with the creamed leeks and serve with some chopped chives.

5. Serves 2 people as a light lunch or 4 people as a side dish.

Leeks and blue cheese sauce

2 medium leeks

1 tbspn blue cheese spread (i.e Philadelphia)

1 oz Dolcelatta or Gorgonzola cheese

Olive oil

1. Sauté the sliced leeks in olive oil until they're soft.

2. Add the soft blue cheese spread and stir through.

3. Serve with crumbled Dolcelatta or Gorgonzola blue cheese over the top and eat while hot.

4. Makes a delicious main dish for 2 people.