Monday, May 7, 2012

spring is in the air

When I was younger, I remember sitting in my backyard in early spring as I "gardened" - otherwise known as pulling out any and all grass that looked too high or ostentatious to my regal eye.  I especially loved uprooting onion grass: the damp, sharp smell of the beautiful white and green bulbs encapsulated the smell of spring. 

My green thumb has improved slightly since my grass-pulling rampages, but my palate has remained entranced by spring onions. I was therefore delighted to recently come across a recipe for leeks, a similar smelling onion-y vegetable that reminds me of my childhood onion grass days.  My recipe is inspired by Elizabeth Bard's excellent "Lunch in Paris," and I've added a few pictures and twists of my own.

Step 1:
Turn your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit, and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  As the oven warms, cut off the hairy end of the leek and the dark green part of the leek so that you are left with a sleek tube of glistening white and pale green.

Step 2:
Slice the leek in half, leaving about an inch of green at the top uncut. Turn the leek so that the uncut side is on your cutting board, then slice down the top in half again, leaving the same inch at the top uncut. You should end up with four leek-quarters stemming out of the top green inch.  This makes it immeasurably easier to clean the leek, as you can rinse away the dirt from all of the layers while not ending up with a mess of leek skins all over your sink. Side note: I've always loved leeks but avoided cooking them since I didn't know how to clean them. They are now in a regular meal rotation since cleaning them has become so much simpler.

Step 3:
Lay the leeks out on your baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil.  Rub the olive oil all around the leek to make sure it's evenly coated, and then stick the baking sheet in the oven.  After about 30 minutes (or when the leeks are fork-tender), take the leeks out and let them cool.  After about 5 minutes, your entire kitchen will smell like spring - sharp and sweet and fresh - and I recommend staying in the kitchen and sniffing the air as your leeks roast.

And voila! Sweet and pungent, the leeks go well with fish dishes, or can be gobbled up on their own.  If you'd like a sauce for your leeks, I like mixing equal parts whole grain mustard with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and dipping the roasted leek ribbons into the mix.  

My dinner was leeks, sauteed kale, and roasted salmon with herb dressing.

Happy eating!

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