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FMC: Leeks Ain’t So Easy

An obvious point must be made: leeks have a very delicate flavor and preserving their distinction during the cooking process is a bit of a challenge, as Luke and I discovered this week. I’ve never made a dish with leeks taking center stage before. Typically, they’ve been worked into sautes and even some risotto dishes, supplanting or in addition to onions.

For this week, I settled on a lovely little salad or meze I happened upon in Claudia Roden’s ‘Can’t Put Down’ book, ‘The New Book of Middle Eastern Food’–stay tuned for another meze this week courtesy of Ms. Roden.

The salad was tasty enough–served with warm, whole-wheat pita bread. I made it on Saturday and served it a few days later. The salad took on a pickled taste–the point–though the leek flavor took a bit of a backseat.

I spruced the salad up with some fresh mint (I enjoy using both dried and fresh herbs in my cooking as both forms, even though the same herb, impart different flavors) and a spritz of olive oil. Perhaps I let it sit in the fridge for one too many days. In any event, I will revisit this dish!

Salatet Korat – Leek Salad
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food – Claudia Roden
Serves 4

1 pound leeks
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried mint
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (my addition)

With a pointed knife, split the leeks lengthwise to their center and wash them carefully, fanning them out in the water to remove all traces of soil between the leaves.

Discard the tough outer leaves and trim the tops and roots. Cut the leeks into 1- or 2-inch lengths and boil them in lightly salted water for 15-20 minutes or until soft, then drain and press the excess water out.

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, dried mint, garlic and sugar and pour over the leeks in a serving dish. Serve cold.

Before serving, add fresh mint and a final spritz of olive oil Toss carefully and serve immediately.

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