Sometimes, for this column, I have a very distinct thing that I want to do. Like, Celeriac Remoulade. And then I pace and puff and pout my way around a supermarket, hunting for the celery roots that are never going to be found, because they’re not in season. This week, I did as the French do (probably very appropriate given the nature of this column), and just wandered the produce aisle, looking for something to strike my fancy. And I found them, baby leeks. They’ve been so trendy for so long, which is something you don’t say everyday. So, I figured, let’s give them a whirl.
My flavor inspiration came from Thanksgiving stuffing, the onion and thyme action with a salty bite. I do a quick blanch on the leeks, and then toss them with olive oil and whole thyme leaves and a bit of nutty Parmesan, and then put them into a hot oven to have everything crisp and crumble into each other. The result is such a beautiful, unusual side dish, full of soft, mellow onion flavor, and charred, woodsy strands of thyme, and nutty, salty Parmesan. Hey, ’tis the season. Might as well get with the times.
- 6 ounces baby leeks, tips and dark greens trimmed away
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 10 small sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve the leeks lengthwise. Place the butter and water and salt in a sauté pan over high heat. Add the leeks in a single layer, and place the lid askew over the pot. Cook until the water has just evaporate, about 7 minutes.
Gently toss the leeks with the olive oil and add the whole thyme sprigs. Roast in the oven until just slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Scatter the Parmesan over the leeks, and return to the oven for 1 minute more. Serve on the side, or on top, of chicken or fish.
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