Friday, January 18

Braised Leeks with Sweet Lentils

I cook with some kind of onion, shallot, or leek in nearly every meal I make, but they’re rarely the star of the dish. Parisians have it right, though, with onion tarts, soup, and braised leeks all being classic fare in the City of Light. Leeks are in their peak season right now and there’s no better way to use them than in a recipe like this. As they cook, the leeks get a great buttery texture and sweet flavor. Here, they’re served with lentils, breadcrumbs, and fresh parsley which provide a nice flavor and texture contrast to the dish. It make a wonderful and surprisingly filling vegetarian meal, but don’t be afraid to serve them on their own as a side dish or with some soft cheese as a nice starter salad.

Braised Leeks with Sweet Lentils, Breadcrumbs & Parsley:
  • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 3-5 trimmed, rinsed,* and halved leeks, cut-side down and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until golden.
  • Drizzle the leeks with a little olive oil and flip, cooking for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  • Season leeks with a good pinch of salt, ground pepper, and 2 tbsp. of honey.
  • Pour 1 c. chicken stock** into the skillet, cover with a lid, and lower heat to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook leeks for 15-30 minutes, or until very tender.
  • Meanwhile, bring 2/3 c. lentils and 1 1/2 c. water to simmer and cover with a lid.
  • Cook lentils for 15-25 minutes, or until tender and drain off any excess water.***
  • In a small pan, melt together 1/2 tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. olive oil and add in the lentils.
  • Sprinkle lentils with 1/2 tbsp. raw sugar**** and 2 tsp. rice vinegar.
  • Stir lentils until sugar dissolves and add in a pinch of salt.
  • Combine 1/4 c. breadcrumbs with 1 tsp. olive oil and set aside.
  • To serve, divide leeks onto plate, top with some of the lentils, and sprinkle with fresh minced parsley and breadcrumbs.

Serves two (main course)
Serves four-six (side dish)
*The best way to clean leeks is to halve them and place in a large bowl of water for 5-10 minutes. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl and the clean leeks will float to the top.
**Or vegetable stock or water.
***Any kind of lentils will do, although my favorite are black beluga. Cooking times may vary, so check your package. Can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for a few days.
****Or brown sugar. You may want to add a little more, according to your preference.