A ‘dramatically delicious’ leek, saffron and seafood pie

Melanie Johnson takes this sweet staple vegetable and combines it with saffron to elevate a fish pie.

These members of the allium family are ‘sweeter and milder than onions,’ says Melanie Johnson, who adds that they ‘bring a subtle depth of flavour to dishes’

You can add them to a pasta dish, such as farfalle, making a nice carbonara. ‘Cook 350g of farfalle pasta until al dente, reserving a mug full of the starchy cooking water before draining it in a colander,’ says Melanie. ‘In a separate bowl, whisk together three eggs, 200g of Parmesan, two cloves of garlic, grated, and seasoning. Fry two thinly sliced washed leeks in olive oil, cooking until softened and lightly caramelised, and then mix in the cooked pasta. Pour over the eggs and cheese, together with a splash of the reserved pasta water, and mix well, on a very low heat (if the heat is high, the eggs may scramble). Add more water, if needed, to loosen. Serve immediately with extra Parmesan and a green salad.’

However, leeks really light up a seafood pie. Here’s a great recipe to impress your friends and family

Recipe: Leek, saffron and seafood pie


  • A pinch of saffron
  • 45g butter
  • 2 large leeks
  • 45g plain flour
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 200ml vegetable or fish stock
  • 100g baby spinach
  • A handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • A small handful fresh dill, chopped
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of
  • 500g mixed seafood in bite-size pieces (be as luxurious — scallops, lobster, halibut, monkfish — or as simple — cod, salmon, smoked haddock — as you like)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, or one if not adding decorative fish
  • 1 egg, beaten


Preheat your oven to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6.

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Pour three tablespoons of boiling water over the saffron threads and leave to infuse.

Melt butter in a large frying pan and add the thinly sliced leeks. Cook until softening and then sprinkle over the flour. Mix until combined. Pour over the wine, reduce by half, and then pour in the stock.

Simmer again for a few minutes and then add the spinach and herbs, followed by the cream and saffron threads, with their liquid. Cook to reduce and for the sauce to thicken. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest. Pour half the sauce into a pie dish and then arrange the raw fish on top. Pour the remaining sauce over that.

Place a sheet of puff pastry over the top and use the extra sheet to cut out your decorative fish before brushing the top with beaten egg. Bake for 25—30 minutes or until bubbling and browned. Serve immediately with a salad.