Spinach Tortelloni with Leeks and Gorgonzola

Almost before I’ve realised it, we’ve come to the end of my year in the kitchen. It started off, as I recall, in the frosts of early March 2006 using up the last of the leeks lingering in the kitchen garden. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have been doing just that this week – albeit having to brave the mud rather than the frost this time. The kitchen garden has been a revelation this year, with a gold medal going to our peach and apricot trees, which finally came into their own with a vengeance. We are still enjoying our jams and jellies, with stacks of jars still in the larder to see us through to next summer. The soft fruits, too, deserve a special mention, ensuring the freezer is still well-stocked with gooseberry pies, summer fruit crumbles and blackcurrant ice cream. Our football team, alas, has not been a revelation over the past year, alternatively offering us glimmers of hope interspersed with agonies of anxiety (how many football fans would recognise that!). It has been particularly nerve-wracking of late as we seemed to be drawn ever closer to the relegation zone. Without in any sense giving up hope, I devised this recipe as my ‘after-the-match-if-we’ve-lost’ comfort supper. It is truly lovely and, I can promise, it can be on the table inside 10 minutes – just perfect in case there’s a long miserable journey home. However I can finish these diaries on a more optimistic note, because last night we did have a long journey home from our game at Luton. But it wasn’t miserable at all – it was wonderful. Having gone behind twice, we finally won the game in the final minutes with an exquisite free-kick. Life is great sometimes!

Serves 4

Spinach Tortelloni with Leeks and Gorgonzola
 300g pack fresh spinach and ricotta tortelloni (Tesco or Sainsbury’s)
 2 medium leeks, cleaned, cut in half lengthways and chopped small
 200g Gorgonzola Piccante, cut into cubes
 200ml tub half-fat crème fraîche
 whole nutmeg, for grating
 1 heaped tablespoon dried breadcrumbs (Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients) or 1 heaped tablespoon dried ciabatta breadcrumbs (Tesco Finest)
 1 heaped tablespoon fresh ready-grated Parmesan
You’ll also need a medium-sized heatproof gratin dish.


First, in a wide pan, heat the crème fraîche, then add the leeks along with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Keep the heat low and let them cook gently for about 5 minutes without a lid. Meanwhile pre-heat the grill and fill a saucepan with 1.5 litres of very hot water, add a few drops of oil and some salt and bring it up to the boil. Now give the leeks a stir and grate in the nutmeg, and when they’re tender remove them from the heat. When the water bubbles, add the tortelloni and time it to cook for 2 minutes.

After that drain it quickly in a colander, then leaving some of the water clinging to it tip it into the saucepan to join the leeks. Give it all a good stir, then using a spatula, spoon it all into the gratin dish, stirring in half the gorgonzola and scattering the rest on top.

To finish off mix the ciabatta breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan together then sprinkle this all over, whack it under the grill (about 3 inches from the heat) and give it about 1½ minutes, or until the crumbs have become brown and crisp. A leafy salad with raw strips of fennel and a lemon dressing would be the ideal accompaniment.

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