Tave Me Presh means baked leeks. It is a traditional dish of Tirana, Albania’s capital city. It is typically served as an appetizer with sour cream and yogurt. It can also be served as a main course with mashed potatoes. As I am doing a dinner party I go with mashed potatoes.
One of the characteristics of Albanian cuisine is that it has very few ingredients. So as I am looking up the recipes I find tons of people have added things like: more seasoning, extra vegetables, and even bechamel sauce. They sound interesting, but I want to make this as authentic as possible, so go with a simpler recipe.
The first step is to cook the leeks until tender and then put them in the bottom of a casserole dish.
Then cook the meat and remaining ingredients. A lot of recipes indicated you can do lamb or beef. I picked beef as I had a lot of lamb last week with the Afghan cuisine. It is simple and straight forward to make. I taste the meat sauce to see if it needs more seasoning. It tastes like a brown gravy. I have to restrain all my instincts to add thyme, oregano, or basil. I just add a bit more salt. Then pour the gravy over the leeks.
Pop it in the oven and then cook for an hour. The house smells amazing with the smell of beef and leeks. It comes out of the oven and all of the liquid has evaporated.
I couldn’t find a particular Albanian mash potato recipe, so I just make my favorite way to make mashed potatoes with Yukon gold potatoes and roasted garlic. Although, I was thinking of doing olive oil instead of milk and butter; but I’m serving it to friends so I stick with my method.
The final result is amazing. It is surprising how complex the flavor of Tave Me Presh is. I’m glad I didn’t add extra flavors as the simplicity allows the flavor of the leeks to shine. There is a sweetness from the peppers and the meat is delicious. Combined with mashed potatoes it reminds us of a deconstructed shepherds pie. There are 4 of us ladies for dinner and we eat all of it. There are no leftovers!
Tave Me Presh
Original recipe can be found here
- 3 leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce/puree
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/4 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, adjust to taste
- 1 tbsp flour to thicken sauce
- cooking spray
- Heat the oven to 375°
- Spray cooking spray on a baking dish.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil to a dutch oven.
- Add leeks to the pan and fry until soft.
- Put the leeks into the baking dish.
- In the same pan and remaining oil, add onion and cook until soft and translucent.
- Add meat and cook until cooked through
- Drain all the liquid and fat and return to the pan.
- Add garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add peppers, tomato puree, salt, pepper, and broth to the pan and mix until well combined.
- Over medium-low heat, bring to gentle boil
- Add flour to thicken up a bit, cook for about 5 minutes.
- Taste and adjust salt and/or pepper if desired.
- Pour the pan ingredients over the leeks in the baking dish and place in the center of the oven (uncovered) and bake for 1 hour.
- As an appetizer server with Greek yogurt and sour cream. As an entree serve with mashed potatoes.
Roasted Garlic Mash Potatoes
- 1 head of garlic
- 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- pre-heat oven to 350°
- Wrap head of garlic in tin foil.
- Place in the oven and bake for an hour.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch.
- When cool, chop off the root of the garlic and squeeze the garlic into a large bowl.
- Boil a pot of water
- Peel potatoes and cut into 4
- Add potatoes to water and cook for about 20 minutes until potatoes are done
- Drain potatoes in a strainer
- Add the potatoes to the garlic bowl
- Add butter, salt, and pepper to the bowl.
- Once butter has melted a bit, mash the potatoes with a potato masher.
- Add a tablespoon of milk and continue mashing. Keep adding a tablespoon of milk to the potatoes until desired consistency.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.