Friday, July 07, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #40

Weekend Herb Blogging is on the road again and this time is being hosted by Gabriella from My Life as a Reluctant Housewife. Today my focus is on a vegetable that doesn't often get to be the centre of attention, usually it's quite happy sitting in the background and offering support with it's subtle and sweet onion flavour.

leeks

Leeks are members of the Allium family (as are garlic and onions) and contain Manganese, Vitamin C, Iron, Folate and Vitamin B6. They are useful in stabilising blood sugar levels as well as lowering bad cholesterol (and raising good cholesterol). Of further interest is research showing their connection with reducing colon and prostate cancers.

Vichyssoise and Cock-a-leekie soup would probably be the most popular recipes involving leeks but for WHB I'll be using them in a salad. This recipe has been adapted from Marie Claire and is a dish suitable for all seasons.

salad

Warm Leek Salad

pinch saffron
3 tablespoons butter
125ml verjuice (or white wine)
3 medium sized leeks - look for those with long white stems
4 slices prosciutto - grilled until crispy
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sage leaves
Olives (these are Mount Zero Wild Olives)
Blue cheese, cut into small pieces - choose your favourite creamy blue, I've gone for Tarago River's "Shadows of Blue"

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Slice the leeks just where the stem begins to go green - then slice in half lengthways, rinse to make sure there's no dirt between the layers, then slice in half lengthways again. If you are using baby leeks, there's no need to cut them, just cook them whole.

Place the baking dish over a high heat on top of the stove - add the saffron to warm it through before adding the butter. As the butter melts add the verjuice and leeks. Take the dish off the flame, cover and place in the oven - bake for 40 minutes or until leeks have softened.

Cook the sage leaves in the olive oil - remove and drain on paper towels when they begin to crisp up. Toss the olives in this hot oil before removing the pan from the heat - leave the olives in the frying pan.

When leeks cooked, arrange on serving dish, top with the prosciutto, sage, olives, and blue cheese - then drizzle over some of the frying pan and baking dish juices.

salad

To serve as a starter - just combine the ingredients on individual plates and serve with some fresh bread to mop up those lovely pan juices.

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6 comments:

  1. Great post for WHB. I like how you help us learn a little bit more about leeks in this post. I confess I haven't used them too often in cooking, just the soup like you mentioned. Love the idea of using leeks in a salad.

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  2. Thanks Kalyn - it's always good to see ingredients used a bit differently - the salad works really well, the blue cheese provides a little extra flavour and it tends to melt in the warmth of the leeks creating a creamy dressing.

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  3. Fabulous! I love leeks. I love braised leeks with vinaigrette so this is sort of similar and then you add proscuitto and blue cheese. divine.

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  4. I also love leeks and keep intending to grow my own. Your pictures are wonderful. They really communicate how delicious this dish must taste.

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  5. Thanks Sher! The dish tastes even better than it looks - it's a really good combination of flavours - if you do get around to growing your own, try making this salad with the baby leeks, it's look even nicer.

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