Do leeks really serve a purpose in this life?

This question can actually be asked for a lot of things… like yappy dogs, mosquitoes, bungee jumping, squirrels, tv shows like The Bachelorette and Fear Factor, and certain favorite (!) Southern insects that  I will not dare to mention on a food blog.

It might sound unfair to pose this question for a vegetable which has no idea what is going on, but really overall, there was never much going on for them in my book. Not so hot on my veggie list, due to the fact that I cannot eat them without cooking first. No munching option—cross it out. Secondly, they belong to the onion-garlic family of plants, so I was told by my mom long ago that I can not cook leeks with these two…  when I have to choose between garlic and leeks… the winner is a no-brainer! Then, of course there’s all that grit and sand which is invariably stuck between the layers of leek, making it considerable work to clean.

And on an unrelated level,  in the world of Turkish idioms, if somebody tells you that your hair is looking like leeks, that resemblance does not mean something very attractive, to say the least.

Does my question make any sense to you, now?

For so many years, the only leek dish I ever had was the one that my mom cooked, with a little bit of rice, grated tomato, and carrots cooked in olive oil. It is eaten cold, and it is a very typical dish in Turkey when leeks are in season. Over and over, it gets a liiiittle bit boring!! So, I have to give American cuisine a thumbs up when it comes to the menu options for leeks: soups, tarts, pies, frittatas. Not that I have tried to make or had any of these…  but I know that there are options and this veggie might not be boring after all!

So I gave it a try in my own way! After a make-your-own pizza party with friends following my husband’s most recent home-brewing activity, the next day I was contemplating what to do with a leftover sliced large onion, 16-ounces of sliced baby bella mushrooms, and an open bottle of red wine. The wine was the easy part of the question. I just poured myself a glass and let the juice flow… Since it was a weekday (YES, I drink on “school” nights, one of the very few advantages of being a grown-up!),  I was in my what-is-left-in-the-back-of-the-fridge/pantry? type of cooking mode… the one where you put the ingredients in a pot and pray to the Pot Belly God that it will turn out ok. Or at least edible so you can say that you are done with dinner!

Then I saw four stalks of leeks at the back of the fridge, since all the beer and pizza dough blocking it was gone! I probably bought them thinking I will do my mom’s dish, but was never able to bring myself to cook it due to being tired of it. Well… the least I could do was not to listen to her one more time (sometimes the teenager in me resurfaces!) and see how onions and leeks together would taste!!!

So, at the end of the hour, the following dish was created, eaten by my husband, and deemed blogworthy! Since I was being creative and resourceful, I toasted some leftover sourdough bread, mixed goat cheese with a dash of paprika and a pinch of thyme (yes, I’m learning there IS a difference between dash and pinch!), and spread it over the bread. Piled the leek-onion-mushroom creation on top and crumbled more goat cheese on it. I used white ground pepper for cooking (because it was sitting in the pantry). Do not let the “white” part fool you. They have a kick!! If you don’t have it, but like it a little spicy, you can increase the black pepper amount a little bit.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 stalks of leeks (white parts cut in strips, do not use the green parts)
  • 16 ounce of baby bella mushrooms (roughly chopped)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

1. Wash leeks well and let it drain in a colander.

2. Put butter and olive oil in a pot and melt the butter on a medium high heat.

3. Add the sliced onions  to butter-olive oil mixture. Stir frequently. Once they soften and turn translucent, reduce the heat to medium – medium low and saute them until they are caramelized. They will turn to a nice brown but it might take a little bit of time.

4. After the onions are caramelized, add the chopped mushrooms, saute them for a minute or two. Add 1/3 cup of beef stock and stir. Add salt, peppers and thyme. Stir occasionally until all liquid is gone.

5. Add the leeks to the pot. Mix with the rest of the veggies and stir a minute. Add 1/2 cup of wine and 1/2 cup of beef stock, cover the pot and cook it over medium setting, stirring occasionally. Cook it until leeks become tender and all the liquid is gone. Add more liquid if necessary.

6. Assemble as described above, on a piece of toasted bread with goat cheese spread.

Fun Facts

1. A dash equals to 1/8 teaspoon, and a pinch equals to 1/16 teaspoons. So a pinch is the half of a dash.

2. According to Wikipedia, the Leek is the symbol of Wales. I have no idea why someone would want to choose that for a country??

3. And apparently leeks are good for reducing LDL (bad cholestrol). Maybe they do serve a purpose after all! What do I know??

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