Archives for posts with tag: leeks

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I am very full. I write this almost immediately after eating Sunday night dinner, a meal one shouldn’t miss. Tonight we had beef short rib, slow cooked for 9 hours with red wine, mushrooms, carrots and smoky bacon. The rib was tender and left the clean, sleek bones behind in the slow cooker. We had mashed potatoes made smooth with a hunk of butter and big scoop of chicken stock from a roast during the week. On the side, softened leeks. I watched the leeks slowly steam in butter and oil through the glass lid of a fry pan and the light green colour, like a perfectly ripe avocado, reminded me of a very good leek recipe I have been meaning to share.

cross sectionquarters, lengthwise

The leek is probably my favourite vegetable. A strong declaration perhaps when you consider the variety, the sheer abundance and colour of the vegetable world. But the sleek, white, sturdy and soil-dusted trunk with the green fan tops are my most loved. I cannot pinpoint when the leek became a crucial part of my culinary arsenal, which is likely another measure of favouritism – never a conscious decision but a slow integration until you cannot remember ever cooking without it. I realised I began most meals by dicing a piece of a leek rather than an onion or like the meal tonight, sauteed leeks became as common as steamed broccoli or green beans for the vegetable side. Then much like broccoli once made the leap from a humble side to the star of the show (think roast broccoli), leeks began to do the same.

placed in dishtomatoes

These leeks do indeed steal the show. They are acidic, bright and sweet. They are like ribbons, almost pasta in texture; wide wraps of tender noodle. With tomatoes and a robust mustard vinaigrette, they seem an entirely different vegetable to the diced and sauteed and the gently cooked leek for soup.

beforeafter

I’ll let the photos do the talking here. It’s late on a Sunday and between the title and the photography clues, I’m sure you get the idea – that there is perhaps more to the leek than we thought.

Roasted Vinaigrette Leeks

This serves as a generous accompanying dish for four people. Goes superbly with chicken, but also with pork chops.

2 leeks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 pinches salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
minced garlic clove (I didn’t use this but just thought it might be a nice addition)
1-2 tomatoes, diced
handful sun-dried (can use no tomato or either all sun-dried or fresh)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Cut the white of the leeks in half lengthwise then each length into quarters, lengthwise. Place the leeks into a large oven dish with the chopped tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes. In a bowl or jug mix the vinaigrette ingredients together and pour over the leeks. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and remove the tinfoil then gently mix, basting the leeks with the sauce. Place back in the oven with the tinfoil removed for another 15-20 minutes until soft and floppy.

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Meals have been a bit hit and miss around here lately; you may have noticed a certain quiet in this space. Time has become quite precious and while moments standing at the stove stirring, or at the bench chopping are always enjoyed, there have been other things to do.

Three meals a day – three opportunities to sit and eat – have not necessarily been on the cards for me. Breakfast and lunch blur, not so much in the form of pancakes or eggs benedict as one might expect of the blurring of breakfast and lunch, but I tend to find myself looking for crusts of toast with peanut butter at one in the afternoon. Dinner, I confess, has sometimes been more about the bourbon or Pinot than vegetables and protein.The term “fridge-raid supper” has taken on a new meaning in recent weeks, and from these scrape-together-meals have come some lovely things – roasted celery for one. The celery from our garden is nearing its use-by date and has taken on a strong, bitter, grassy flavour. Now it is best roasted for 20-30 minutes with oil, salt, pepper and a half teaspoon of smoked paprika. In the last few minutes throw in a handful of chopped almonds and a knob of butter. Braised celery, I have discovered, is also very good with lots of butter, salt, plus a sliced shallot and a peeled, diced pear, all slowly cooked until tender. This combination of flavours and textures would make a tasty risotto, too. But the stand out here, an accidental discovery that may very well slip into my “fridge-raid supper” repertoire, is a toasted open sandwich. An occasion where the choice of toppings lends itself more to a pizza than a sandwich. This past week there was a large brown paper bag containing a basketball sized loaf of bread on our kitchen bench and written on the side, “Please eat me.” I did so, happily.

One evening I began slowly cooking leeks in butter with a splash of white wine. I toasted the bread and thinly spread on some Dijon mustard, topped with the soft and slippery leeks and grated cheese, then under the grill until bubbling and golden. The sharp mustard and sweet buttered leeks made for a delicious supper. Caramelised onions, perhaps a few anchovies or crumbles of blue cheese could be equally as good – a sort of pissaladiere tartine.

Butter and salt seem to be a trend here. Long may that continue.