You've been waiting for the sequel, we've been waiting for the sequel — everyone's been waiting for London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi's follow-up to his smash hit cookbook Plenty. The wait is over: Plenty More is on the shelves. Get to know the vegetarian dishes you love on a more intimate level and add a few to your repertoire. Meat-free food simply doesn't get better than this.
I have done it before, and I am doing it again here, that is, placing leek right in the center of a substantial stand-alone dish. This is not trivial for a vegetable that is normally given the side job of flavoring other things, like stocks and soups. I find the creaminess of leeks and their sweet oniony flavor very satisfying. This dish, with its jewel-like currants, makes an elegant starter. Use long, relatively thin leeks if you can find them; otherwise, just halve their number.
- 8 small leeks, white parts only (2 pounds)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Scant 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- scant 2 1/2 tablespoons dried currants
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 3 1/2 ounces goat's curd or a creamy goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon chervil leaves or flat-leaf parsley
- salt and black pepper
- Cut the leeks crosswise into two segments, each about 4 inches long, and wash well.
- Lay all the leeks on the bottom of a large, shallow pan and add the bay leaves, garlic, wine, olive oil and about 1 cup water, so that the leeks are half covered in liquid.
- Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper, place over medium heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, until a knife can be inserted into the leeks without any resistance. Turn the leeks over once or twice during cooking so that they are cooked evenly.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the leeks from the pan and place on a plate to one side.
- Strain the remaining cooking liquid into a small saucepan and reduce over high heat until you are left with just 3 tablespoons. This should take between 12 and 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add the onion, currants, vinegar, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and some black pepper.
- Set aside to soften and marinate.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Carefully add the leeks and fry for 2 minutes on each side, until lightly golden.
- Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
- To serve, divide the leeks among four plates. Dot with the cheese, spoon the onion and currant dressing over the top and finish with the chervil.
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