Editor’s Note: New ES-er Nina, an NYC-based writer behind The Leafy Kitchen will be bringing us a new weekly column sharing her best ways for cooking up the season’s farmers market finds. First up: leeks!
One time, while checking out at Whole Foods, the young cashier looked my giant leek up and down, gave a shrug and then asked me what the hell it was. So, OK, if you’ve never cooked with a leek before, I guess you are forgiven. But C’MON. For those of you who need a refresher, leeks are a sister of the onion, related to scallions, chives, shallots and garlic. Leeks have a delicate, sweet flavor and won’t make you cry! They’re quite pretty, too: when you slice them, the layers come apart into dozens of perfect circles.
In the Northeast, onions and their kin are happiest in the early spring, so it’s not surprising that proud, oversized leeks were piled high under every produce tent at the Union Square farmers market this week. I picked up one with firm rooty bulbs and a long, white stem (the more white the better as that is the part you cook with), plus two bunches of kale to create my favorite caramelized leeks and greens that can used in a variety of ways.
Caramelized Leeks with Steamed Greens
- 2 large leeks (white part only), sliced thin and rinsed
- 1-2 bunches of kale or chard, rinsed, tough stems and veins removed and roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat, until soft (about 5 minutes).
- Lower heat, add chopped greens and crushed garlic.
- Cover and steam for 7-9 minutes until tender, stirring a few times to coat greens with leeks and garlic.
This very tasty, super healthy “side dish” can be used in Leek and Lemon Linguine, served with a salad for a light spring dinner…
- Reheat your leeks and greens and squeeze 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into the pan.
- Cook 8 oz. of whole wheat linguini (fettuccine works too) in a large pot of boiling water. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta, 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Toss the pasta with some Parmesan cheese and a handful of chopped fresh chives (also in season!!).
Scrambling it with egg whites or tofu and hot sauce for a delicious slimming breakfast.
Make some roughly mashed potatoes and stir in the leeks and greens with a little butter.
Toss with brown rice and a sprinkle of feta cheese.
Go crazy, you got this.