Leeks are considered “indispensable” in European kitchens in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It’s a vegetable I grew up with because my Swiss mother always loved to cook with them. She still does today. While they’re available year-round, leeks are in season right now.
We’ve used leeks in many dishes: on pizzas, in tarts, and in soups including the famed French fish soup bouillabaisse. We used leeks this week as an aromatic base in a delicious puree of carrot and orange soup.
Leeks are terrific on their own, too. They’re good braised or roasted in the oven. (You can read our May In Season newsletter for more cooking ideas and information about preparing leeks.)
Award-winning cookbook author Marie Simmons is a leek fan. She was kind enough to take a quick timeout from her latest book project to send us a recipe for oven-braised leeks. They’re topped with extra virgin olive oil, orange zest, and fresh thyme.
You cook the leeks in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven covered with oil until they’re tender. (We took some creative liberties with the recipe: We uncovered the leeks for the last few minutes of cooking, cranked the oven up, and roasted them until they began to brown. They’re pictured above.)
Leeks are a member of the onion family, along with garlic, shallots and chives. Yet leeks have a far more delicate flavor than your standard onion. “Leeks are sweet, tender, and only mildly oniony,” says Mark Peel, the chef-owner of the Los Angeles restaurant Campanile.
I’d agree. And I’m sure my mom would, too.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch