Garden-fresh leeks have an absolutely gorgeous flavour and this week I had the privilege of working with spectacular leeks from Avonmore Berry Farm at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market as part of my Farmers’ Feast Challenge basket for August. I find leeks are sometimes a neglected vegetable. They make behind-the-scenes appearances, often finely sliced, in all sorts of soup recipes, but rarely do I seem them served in a more showy, intact format. This recipe puts tender, delicious leeks in the spotlight they deserve.
- 4 medium sized leeks
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) rice vinegar
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped celery leaves *
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) crumbled chèvre
* Mint or parsley would be good substitutes for celery leaves
- Bring a large pot of water, along with the coarse salt, to a boil.
- Preheat barbeque to hot (approximately 425F).
- While water is heating, cut off the tough, leafy green end of the leeks and trim just a tiny slice off the very bottom of each one. You’ll be cooking just the white/pale green portion.
- Split the leeks lengthwise, using a sharp knife.
- Gently pry the layers of the leek apart at the top (green end) and run them under cold water to rinse out the dirt hiding between the layers.
- Place the split, cleaned leeks in a steamer basket. This will help the leeks stay intact while you blanch them; blanching ensures they do not have to stay on the grill for too long to be thoroughly cooked.
- When the water is boiling, lower the steamer basket into the pot; the water should just cover the leeks.
- Blanch for 3 minutes then carefully remove the steamer basket from the pot.
- Gently transfer the leeks to a paper towel lined plate. Pat dry and drizzle with olive oil.
- Grill over high heat for 3 – 5 minutes per side.
- Place grilled leeks on a serving plate and drizzle with rice vinegar. Top with pepper, crumbled chèvre and finely chopped celery leaves, mint or parsley.
Serves 4 as a side dish or appetizer.