Friday, July 16, 2010

For the Love of Leeks

I love leeks. Love. I even have a few planted in a garden box in my backyard, although I fear they will not turn into anything more than the spindly shoots of green they are currently. It’s been hard to find nice leeks in the places I have lived so far in my life. Here in Maine it has been easier, but they tend to be rather pricey. If they were less expensive I would put them in everything. But as is, I must restrain myself and use them sparingly and only when a truly great recipe calls for them.

There is of course potato leek soup – of which I make a pretty good version, but it is far too hot outside to mention the words ‘hot and hearty soup’ right now. And a leek tart is also subtle and delicious that more pieces of it then necessary are usually consumed on my part. But there is a recipe that uses as many leeks as you have, and satisfies that leek flavor craving without making you feel guilty about ingesting too much.
Usually, vegetable side dishes are always a little boring, I think. It’s hard to incorporate variety sometimes onto the plate for dinner. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of meat, carb, veg and the only way to spruce it up is to change up the carb or add a sauce to the meat. Of course now that there are tons of vegetables begging to be picked from the ground and the farmer’s market, but even still it’s nice to add a little variety to cooking methods now and again.
This recipe is a great vegetable side dish, and is very easy and fairly healthy to make. As long as you like a little vinegar flavor, you will love this recipe. I know I just shared with you a German potato salad recipe that is heavy on the red wine vinegar –but this one, I promise, is not. It really lets the leeks and carrots shine and I think the whole thing tastes even better the next day for lunch.
Leeks and Carrots
as Adapted from Gourmet May 2008

This recipe can be multiplied easily. But this is just enough to make a side for 1 person. If you are making a larger batch, increase the cooking times as well. With the smaller, younger carrots, you won’t need to cook them that long at all.

1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 Tb unsalted butter
Salt and Pepper
3 medium carrots, cut diagonally into ¼ inch wide pieces
1/2 c water
2 Tb red-wine vinegar

Halve leeks lengthwise, rinse, and cut into ½ inch pieces

Sauté leeks in butter with a dash salt and pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in carrots, water, and vinegar. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until carrots are tender, 12 to 18 minutes.

Boil, uncovered, until liquid has mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

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