Leek and Potato Quajado
Quajado is most often prepared by Sephardic Jews for Passover, although it’s an easy, healthy dish all year round. The name comes from asquajado, which means “coagulated” in Ladino, the Spanish-based language of Sephardim. When you think of quajado, picture a crustless quiche or a frittata, but with less egg and more vegetables. Quajado is versatile. My version uses leeks, popular in Sephardic cooking and traditional among Sephardim for Passover, but you can mix and match vegetables such as shredded zucchini or carrots, chopped spinach, sautéed diced onions or roasted, mashed eggplant. Served warm or at room temperature, quajado makes a satisfying lunch or a light supper with a salad. It can also be a veggie side dish or an appetizer, cut into smaller pieces. And during Passover, leftover quajado is a welcome choice for breakfast!
- 4 large or 6-7 medium potatoes (3½ pounds)
- 8-10 leeks, white part only, sliced and washed well*
- 3 eggs plus 1 egg white, beaten
- Salt to taste (less if using feta or another salty cheese)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup crumbled feta or shredded hard cheese such as parmesan, cheddar or kashkaval (optional)
- 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and cut potatoes into even chunks. Place in the boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes until tender. Drain potatoes and set aside to cool.
- Place the leeks in a steamer set into a pot with a few inches of boiling water that does not reach the bottom of the steamer. Cover the pot, turn the heat to medium and let the leeks cook about 10 to 15 minutes until softened. Take out the leeks, put in a colander or strainer and force out as much liquid as possible with the back of a spoon. (By steaming, you eliminate a lot of the moisture the leeks get from boiling.) Mash together leeks and potatoes. Add eggs, salt, pepper and, if using, cheese, and stir to combine well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For a thicker quajado, use a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. For a thinner version (with more crispy surface), use a 9 x 13-inch pan. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the baking dish and swirl to cover the bottom and sides. Place the dish in the preheated oven for 3 to 4 minutes, which will help create a crisp crust on the bottom of the quajado. Put the leek-potato mixture into the hot pan, spreading it evenly. Gently brush the remaining olive oil over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 3 to 4 days or freeze. To reheat, defrost and reheat in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through with a nice crust again.
- Note: Other vegetables can be used in various combinations totaling 3 to 4 cups including shredded zucchini or blanched chopped spinach (both need to be drained, with liquid squeezed out as much as possible), shredded carrots or roasted and mashed eggplant.
- *To clean the leeks: Cut off the dark green tops of the leeks and save for flavoring soup stock. Cut off and discard the rooted ends. Split the leeks lengthwise and then cut into approximately ¼-inch pieces. Place the leeks in a large colander or strainer that will fit into an even larger bowl. Rinse the leeks with cold water, then place the colander in the bowl and fill with cold water. Let soak a few minutes, then swish the leeks around the bowl a few moments to remove dirt. When you stop, allow the grit to fall to the bottom of the bowl, then take out the colander and rinse the leeks again with cold water and let drain. Alternately, you can put the leeks in large bowl of cold water, let soak a few minutes and then swish around the bowl to remove the dirt. Let the dirt fall to the bottom and carefully scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon. Rinse the bowl well and repeat the washing process at least one more time.