Apr 12
2011

Braised Leeks with Red Pepper Cream Cheese Sauce & Capers Recipe

Braised Leeks with Red Pepper Cream Cheese Sauce & Caper Recipe

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Kraft.

When cream cheese is mentioned, one of three things comes to mind – slathered bagels, cheesecake or frosting. Quite honestly, I rarely use cream cheese for anything else. Of course, that is a rather narrow-minded view, as many people use cream cheese in dishes such as mashed potatoes, pasta, and French toast. When Philadelphia Cream Cheese asked that I develop a recipe for a side dish using their product, I felt as though someone was shoving me off my precarious ledge of comfort.

While leeks are part of the same family as onions and garlic (the allium family), they have a much milder taste, particularly when braised. This makes them a willing backdrop to almost any accompanying flavors. Mediterranean ingredients are a particularly good accompaniment for the mellow vegetable. For this sauce, a roasted red bell pepper is blended with cream cheese and a splash of vegetable broth to make a velvety sauce. Quite honestly, I was worried that the cream cheese would make the sauce taste too…well…cream cheesy. Instead, it added a subtle tang and leant a creamy texture to this luxurious, but healthy sauce.

As for the leeks, the process of cooking them is painless. Once cleaned and cut (see my how-to post on preparing leeks), they are sauteed and braised in vegetable broth in under ten minutes and ready to be topped with the roasted red pepper sauce and briny capers. Cream cheese has found its niche in my kitchen, and it doesn’t even involve bagels.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is currently running its second annual Real Women of Philadelphia Contest . The spokesperson, Paula Deen, is inviting home cooks from around the country to submit videos of themselves cooking with Philadelphia Cream Cheese products. This contest highlights real women cooking real dishes for their family and friends, promotes a community in which we can share recipes, and demonstrates that a dish does not have to be elaborate to be a crowd-pleaser.

In the spirit of this contest, I made this side dish to show that an impressive side dish does not require hours of preparation or difficult techniques. The freshness of the ingredients speak for themselves and will make the lowly side dish the highlight of the meal.

The recipe:

The sauce:
In a blender, combine roasted red bell pepper (see How to: Roast a Bell Pepper), cream cheese and vegetable broth. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and puree briefly. The sauce can be served room temperature or it can be heated in a small saucepan set over low heat.

LeeksCreamCheese3

The leeks:
Prepare leeks by cutting off the dark green leaves (discard or save for another use), cutting the leeks in half lengthwise, and thoroughly washing the dirt from between the layers. (For a step-by-step photo tutorial on this process, head to How to: Prepare a Leek.) Cut each leek piece in half again lengthwise.

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Heat olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until leeks begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

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Add vegetable broth, cover and cook until leeks are very tender, about 5 minutes.

Place leeks on serving platter and top with roasted red pepper sauce and capers. Serve.

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Braised Leeks with Red Pepper Cream Cheese Sauce & Capers

Sauce:
1 roasted red bell pepper
2 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
3 tsp vegetable broth
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Leeks:
4 large leeks
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth

2 tbsp capers

Sauce:
In a blender, combine roasted red bell pepper, cream cheese and vegetable broth. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and puree briefly. The sauce can be served room temperature or it can be heated in a small saucepan set over low heat.

Leeks:
Prepare leeks by cutting off the dark green leaves (discard or save for another use), cutting the leeks in half lengthwise, and thoroughly washing the dirt from between the layers. (For a step-by-step photo tutorial on this process, head to How to: Prepare a Leek.) Cut each leek piece in half again lengthwise.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until leeks begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, cover and cook until leeks are very tender, about 5 minutes.

Place leeks on serving platter and top with roasted red pepper sauce and capers. Serve.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Printable recipe

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather at Heathers Dish April 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

I’ve never herd if braising leeks before but it sounds incredible! What a delicious dish :)

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2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Thanks, Heather. Leeks lend themselves very well to braising. This dish is finished in a flash!

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3 Eugene @ Food and Scent April 12, 2011 at 10:23 am

Those leeks are perfectly done! I’m gonna try this for the family this weekend. Thanks!

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4 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Thanks so much, Eugene. I hope the family enjoys it.

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5 Sanjeeta kk April 12, 2011 at 10:37 am

What lovely color and refreshing recipe, D!

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6 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Thanks, Sanjeeta.

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7 Katrina April 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I’ve never had leeks on their own before. I always seem to make them with something, like soup, or whatnot. This sounds lovely! Thanks for the recipe :)

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8 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Their mellow flavor makes them very tasty when made the star of the dish.

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9 Gourmantine April 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I think leeks are such an understated vegetable, especially when they are so easy to prepare. Your sauce turned out beautifully and I’m very interested in trying leek-bell pepper-cream cheese combination :)

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10 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I agree! Thanks for your comment.

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11 claudia lamascolo April 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm

this is simply gorgeous and the pictures are fabulous~

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12 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Thank you, Claudia.

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13 Lauren from Lauren's Latest April 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I love roasted red peppers! That sauce sounds like it would be good on anything!

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14 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Lauren, I have actually already used it on pasta and in a sandwich. It’s really versatile.

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15 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm

when I saw the name of this recipe I knew I had to check it out because three of my favorite things are: capers, red peppers, and creeeeam sauce.

looks awesome and I love any dish that makes people eat more veggies! :)

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16 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

You and I have the same kind of palate, Jenny!

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17 Monet April 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Oh I love leeks…they always remind me of Spring. And I loved learning about this new way to prepare a creamy sauce. I have a packet of cream cheese in my fridge. Perfect. Thank you for sharing with me tonight, my sweet friend. I hope that you have a wonderful week full of laughter, love and good food. As always, I’m leaving tonight feeling inspired by your creativity and kindness.

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18 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Thanks so much, Monet. I am thinking of you!

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19 Maris (In Good Taste) April 13, 2011 at 2:25 am

Your creativity astounds me! This is an awesome recipe.

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20 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, Maris. You’re a sweetheart.

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21 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen April 13, 2011 at 6:10 am

I just love the taste of braised leeks, it’s such a classic dish. I usually serve mine with a vinaigrette, but this creamy red pepper sauce sounds like a wonderful accompaniment as well.

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22 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Leeks topped with a vinaigrette is a wonderful combination – one of my favorite ways to enjoy them.

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23 Elin April 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

CC , this is a wonderful dish…leek with cream cheese….gosh must be delicious. I must try this out :) Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a nice day CC,
Elin

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24 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Thanks so much, Elin.

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25 Jenny Flake April 13, 2011 at 9:07 am

Looks great Dara! I am doing this promotion too, I thought it was for next week, I better go email Yvonne, lol!! Love your post!!

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26 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I’m looking forward to seeing your recipes!

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27 Mike April 13, 2011 at 9:19 am

That photo is wonderful! My knife and fork didn’t work real well on my screen.

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28 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Ha! Time to cook the real thing, huh?

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29 Brooks at Cakewalker April 13, 2011 at 9:38 am

Dara, what a fabulous looking dish! I love the sauce component and the simplicity of the braised leeks. You are right, this side dish is impressive AND user-friendly. Thank you for sharing it.

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30 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thanks, Brooks. It really is an easy dish, but everyone always thinks it looks so fancy.

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31 Lori @ RecipeGirl April 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

Looks yummy. It’s nice to see a cream cheese recipe that isn’t a dessert :)

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32 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thanks, Lori. This challenge definitely had me thinking outside of the box.

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33 Maria April 13, 2011 at 10:21 am

I love that red pepper sauce!

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34 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Thanks, Maria. We’re determined to use it on as many things as we can dream up.

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35 Mary at n00bcakes April 13, 2011 at 10:59 am

Mmm, wow that looks delicious! I’m not sure I’ve ever had leeks before, but this recipe definitely makes me willing to try them out. Great to see another easy-but-delicious recipe!

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36 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) April 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Mary, go buy some leeks. I promise you won’t be sorry.

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37 Dmarie April 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm

your recipe looks fabulous! I just bought some of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Sauce in a little tub (coupon for a free tub and coupon for $1 off a tub, so I got two), and it was too cream cheesy for what I did with it. Next time I will use half the tub and liven it up in a similar manner to what you’ve done here. well done!

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38 Drick April 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm

oh my goodness Dara, this is one heck of a recipe, or two… and thank you for both of them
the red pepper cream cheese sauce just sounds so perfect for so many things, you know I am thinking seafood… can’t wait to try it out

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39 Kimby April 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Simple and flavorful!
P.S. I love how the bowl is reflected in the spoon in the second photo. :)

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40 Sherri @ FoodBasics101 April 13, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I wouldn’t have thought to use cream cheese in a savory sauce. Clever!

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41 Lora @cakeduchess April 14, 2011 at 5:52 am

I love cooking with leeks and your braised leeks look just wonderful! The red pepper cream cheese sauce must taste delicious and I am going to have to try for it out for my in-laws before they leave:)

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42 Tickled Red April 14, 2011 at 7:04 am

It never occured to me to make a sauce with my cream cheese :O! This looks fabulous and delicious. I can’t wait to veture off that ledge and try this myself.

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43 Peggy April 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I love how quick an easy this is! Great job with the cream cheese sauce – it sounds absolutely divine!

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44 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective April 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm

You know, I’ve always used leeks as an accent and never the main element of a dish. I’ve got to try this! The creamy red pepper sauce sounds fantastic.

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45 Nutmeg Nanny April 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I have never thought to braise leeks. I bet they are amazing!

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