Leeks are the easiest-to-get-along-with members of the onion family. They’re deliciously sweet, mildly pungent and simple to prepare. In this recipe they’re paired with apples and thyme. They easily fill Half Your Plate with flavour so you can fill the other half with any simple pork, chicken or fish dish!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vegetable oil
2 large leeks
2 of your favourite apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of honey
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of cider, red or white vinegar
3 or 4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves and tender stems minced
1/2 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
Prepare the leeks. Trim off any dark green parts near their tops and any roots near the bottom. Cut the remainder in half lengthwise then continue cutting lengthwise into long, thin, bite sized pieces. If you discover any sand or grit along the way, rinse the works well in a colander or strainer until clean. Drain well.
Splash the oil into a large heavy skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté, without browning, until tender and fragrant, 5 minutes or so. Add the apples and continue until they too are soft and fragrant, another 5 minutes or so. Add the honey, vinegar and thyme and continue just long enough to heat the works through.
Leeks are related to onions, scallions, shallots, garlic and chives so they enjoy a certain pungency. They’re not quite as strong as other onions though so they’re very easy to prepare. At the store look for firm, bright specimens with their tiny roots still attached. At home keep them tightly wrapped in your refrigerator.
© Chef Michael Smith – #HalfYourPlate
One of the best ways to fill Half Your Plate (and all of your soup bowl) is with a simple puréed 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 Health Minister Terry Lake with Chef Michael Smith’s coaching!
When I toss romaine hearts into my shopping cart, chances are I’m heading home to make my family’s favourite salad. Every cook should know the joy of crafting a true Caesar salad while avoiding the also-ran dressings at the supermarket that never quite measure up to the real thing. Over time we’ve experimented with lots of additional flavours in this salad but, more often than not, I toss in lots of fresh basil leaves and brightly flavoured cherry tomatoes. What a great way to fill Half Your Plate!