Green, green: Leeks and fettucine
April 10, 2006
When I talk about the local farmer's market, it sounds impossibly idyllic to my jaded ears. Saturdays in the sun, wandering among shining organic vegetables, tiny pots of new basil, the smell of fresh-roasted coffee, flats of bright flowers and perfumed gardenia bushes with their creamy blooms, yuppies with their rarified breeds of dogs - you get the idea.
But I go, and boy do I enjoy it. Saturday mornings at the community market I enjoy myself thoroughly, talking with the garrulous guy selling nuts and organic trail mix, avoiding the realtors handing out flyers, checking out the gorgeous little jars of homemade jams, feeling good about supporting local businesses. And this indulgence of local spirit has yielded some fine loot in these last couple weeks - all, fittingly, in shades of green. There's my new Thai basil - cinnamon and licorice and spicy basil all wrapped together. And half a pound of spinach garlic fettucine, to indulge my newly renewed love of pasta.
And then, last week, the gentle, quiet older couple who sell me my bulk almonds (they're not so talkative as the other guy) they had just a few bundles of some obviously home-grown vegetables - onions and leeks. How could I resist? Those dark green bundles with white bulbs, like scallions all grown up. I didn't know what I'd do with them, but I snatched.
I went looking for something that would take full advantage of my leeks - something that would do for a weeknight in at home. I wanted something warm, soft, not too difficult - I went searching blind with my fingers - garlic should be involved, I decided. At some point the word braised entered the picture, and I ended up with a take on Jamie Oliver's Braised Leeks with Thyme.
This was a sweet, silky, dish - soft cooked garlic in an extremity of butter, tossed with round thick slices of leek bulbs and a little salt and pepper. Add homemade chicken stock, cheap white wine, some lemon for tang and braise in the oven for half an hour and you have something so drippy and delicious, with delicate, tender spring leeks cooked through like soft artichoke hearts, in a marvelous broth, that I could gladly eat spoonfuls from the pan, standing over the stove.
To take the meal to an even greater height of green, I quick boiled some of my fresh fettucine and ate it with leeks and parmesan and a little grated mozzarella. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, with a bowl of this and a plate of tomato slices, a glass of white wine - it was just too good. The farmer's market - yeah, I'll be back next week.
4 big leeks
4 big cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 tbsp butter
2 wineglasses of white wine
1 cup chicken stock
half a lemon, sliced
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1. Trim the ends of the green leeks and discard. Then cut the rest of the fresh, green part of the leeks away from the round white bulbs.
2. Finely slice the green parts and reserve.
3. Tear back and discard the first two layers of the leeks, leaving the tender whiter flesh. Rinse well and slice into 1 inch rounds.
4. Have a square baking pan ready.
5. In a large shallow frying pan melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly fry the garlic in the butter with the dark green leek tops until the garlic is softened but not colored. Go slow and let the garlic infuse the butter.
6. Add the pieces of white leek and toss them in the flavoured butter.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss as well.
8. Pour the contents of the frying pan into the baking pan, squeeze the lemon over, then pour the wine and stock in and cover with a square of baking parchment.
9. Bake in the oven at 350°F for 35 minutes or until tender and tasty. The butter should emulsify with the stock and wine to create a slightly shiny broth.
10. Pour over a batch of pasta - or eat directly from a bowl with a large spoon.
Posted by Faith at 10 April 2006
TrackBack URL for this entry:
oh yum, i just cannot WAIT for the first spring vege to appear! goregous!
Posted by: ann at April 11, 2006 01:35 PM
I just discovered your blog and it is beautiful. I love it! I can't wait to expore it some more. I too love my local farmers' markert and go almost every Sunday. My weekend doesn't quite feel complete unless I've gone. And it's so funny that you did this post about Jamie Oliver's braised leeks. I was just looking at this same recipe last night and wondering how it was. It's in his book "Jamie's Kitchen," right? Have you made many recipes from that book? It has a really interesting recipe for a cake with pureed beets and polenta that I've always wanted to try but for some reason haven't.
Posted by: Grant at April 14, 2006 01:14 PM
Grant, thanks so much for the nice words. And - mutual admiration all round - I have seen your blog too and I love the step by step pictures of recipes. That is so cool!
I actually found this online, at Jamie Oliver's website. I don't have that particular book, so I can't speak to the other recipes. Although, the idea of beets and polenta might send me after it... But this one is certainly scrumptious! I was looking sadly at my bowl the next day at work, after all my leftovers were gone.
The one thing I would say is that it is a little soupy. If you're going to have them over pasta, then great - but if serving as a side dish then I would probably cook the broth down a bit more on the stove.
Posted by: faith at April 14, 2006 02:03 PM
Post a comment
Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)
(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)