Growing up, my mom would sometimes braise leeks, very simply in a bit of oil and butter, and seasoned with nothing but salt so that the mild, silky flavor of the leeks showed through. She’d then serve it with a light vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and tarragon. She’d serve it room temperature and store it with the vinaigrette for extended refrigerator life.
I loved these braised leeks as a child. They were wonderful like chicken soup is wonderful when the body’s been chilled to the bone, or like great risotto because its comfort seems to permeate through the mouth, to the throat and into the heart. Now, as an adult, I appreciate these leeks because they’re simple to prepare on a weeknight, sweet and savory liked caramelized onions, and they just seem to say, “Hey! I’m humble, I’m just from the onion family.” But, boy, are they delicious!
Leeks Braised in Oil or Butter
From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
I love this recipe! Thank you Mark Bittman for this fantastic recipe that’s as easy as recipes come and absolutely, swooningly, delicious. I’m adding this to my go-to recipes when I need to impress or am in the mood for something guaranteed to be delicious.
The leftovers last a few days and I turn them into a soup by placing some of the leeks in a bowl, adding some more salt and pepper, and pouring boiling water over it to warm everything up. A bit of acid, like lemon or vinegar, seems to balance the flavors nicely. It’s soup, instantly!
My boyfriend thinks this would be good to serve on Christmas. I’ll do so if leeks are available there. The magic of this recipe depends on 1/4 cup of butter or olive oil (I use half butter, half olive oil – half trying to be healthy!).
After I made these braised leeks, I went to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Saturday and bought seven more giant leeks. I could eat this all weekend!
Makes: 4 Servings
Time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or butter
3 or 4 leeks, about 1 1/2 pounds, trimmed and cleaned
Sale and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (I used chicken stock)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste (I love lemon, but I didn’t think the dish needed any)
Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
Put the oil or butter in a skillet or saucepan large enough to fit the leeks in one layer over medium heat. (Note: You can also cook the leeks in batches, which is what I do, since I like to double the recipe and I don’t have a pan large enough to fit all the leeks.) When the oil is hot or the butter is melted, add the leeks, sprinkle them with salt and pper and cook, turning once or twice, until they’re just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook until the leeks are tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover, if the leeks are swimming in liquid, raise the heat a bit and boil some of it away, but allow the dish to remain moist.
Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over the leeks, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold, sprinkled with a little more lemon juice and garnished with parsley.
(Leeks are on the expensive side with 1 large leek costing around $2 each, but that means it’s about $1 per serving. Not bad.)