© Chef Michael Smith 2018
Leeks are milder cousins of the onion with a sweet neutral texture that absorbs any flavour and complements everything on your plate. They’re a long cylinder of bundled leaves, easy to cook and a deliciously simple way to fill Half Your Plate.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
4 fresh leeks,
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of any vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of Chardonnay (or whatever white wine you happen to be drinking)
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon of cider or white vinegar
Trim off any dark green leaves at one end of the leeks. At the other end trim the root end leaving just enough intact to hold the works together. Slice in half lengthwise and gently rinse away any grit or dirt as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Splash the oil into a large sauté pan or roasting pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and gently swirl until combined and sizzling. Carefully position the leeks cut side down and cook until lightly browned, 3 or 4 minutes.
Without turning the leeks add the juice, vinegar and thyme. Bring the works to a gentle simmer, turn down the heat and cover as tightly as you can. Continue cooking until the leeks are tender and the liquid reduces to a syrup of sorts, 10 minutes or so. Serve and share with the pan sauce drizzled over the top.
Leeks come in many thicknesses but are always the longest veg in the kitchen. Feel free to cut larger ones in half both crosswise and lengthwise to help handle that length. | Leeks grow in sandy soil so they can sometimes have grit between their leaves. That dirt tends to concentrate near their tops so a simple rinse is all it takes to get them ready for cooking. Carefully keep the leeks intact as the water runs though, they’re much easier to handle. | Because of their length you may find it easier to prepare leeks in a roasting pan.
One of the best ways to fill Half Your Plate (and all of your soup bowl) is with a simple pureed soup. They’re a time-honoured and super-simple way to get a whole lot of vegetable flavour on the table in a hurry – maybe even hide vegetables from finicky eaters. This one was custom created by Honourable Dipika Damerla with Chef Michael Smith’s coaching!
Nothing says fall in Canada like fresh local apples. They’re crisp and tasty straight off the tree and magically even more delicious baked. Everyone loves their warm rustic flavours and you’ll love how easy it is to stuff them in the oven but why wait? You can fill Half Your Plate and enjoy this treat any time of year!