Yields: 2-4 servings
Leeks are simple to prepare, flavorful, and nutritious, and below you'll find the proper way to go about preparing your leeks for some SERIOUSLY delicious Brazilian Leeks.
A little blurb about leeks: Leeks are part of the same family of vegetables as garlic and onions: allium. (So my imagination was half right about the green onion association. Points for creativity?) There hasn't been a lot of research done on leeks and their health benefits, but what IS known about them is that they are great for cardiovascular support (thanks to the abundance of the antioxidant "polyphenol"), and they may provide some serious cancer prevention, like their fellow allium family counterparts.
Here are some tips on picking the perfect leek for your plate from The World's Healthiest Foods:
Leeks should be firm and straight with dark green leaves and white necks. Good quality leeks will not be yellowed or wilted, nor have bulbs that have cracks or bruises. Since overly large leeks are generally more fibrous in texture, only purchase those that have a diameter of one and one-half inches or less. Try to purchase leeks that are of similar size so as to ensure more consistent cooking if you are planning on cooking the leeks whole. Leeks are available throughout the year, although they are in greater supply from the fall through the early part of spring.
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1. Prepare your leeks: Cut off the bulb and the as much of the upper most dark, tough greens that you want. (I used most of them and found them to be delightful. Experiment to see what you like.) Slice the leeks open lengthwise where the leaves meet the stem, and unwrap the leek leaves, individually (like unzipping a jacket). They're going to be very sandy and very dirty, so I prefer to wash each leek individually.
2. Slice the leeks in half so they aren't quite so long (you want them to fit in your sautee pan, afterall), and then slice them into 1/4 - 1/2" slices.
3. Allow them to sit for about 5 minutes after washing and slicing them.
4. I like mine to be like long, spaghetti noodles, but you can also chop them into 2" pieces. Preference, dahling.
5. Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium high heat in the BIGGEST pan you have, and saute your leeks. Continually stir them around, making sure all your leeks are making contact with the pan (much like dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, these suckers are going to cook down a LOT. Fear not if your pan seems overfull.)
6. While they're sauteeing, get your balsamic reduction going: In a small pan, bring 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1 1/2 tbsp honey to a simmer (you're going to want some bubble action.) Reduce the heat so it's at a slight simmer, and stir intermittently. Allow the combo to reduce by 1/2. You'll know it's done when it's thick like honey.
7. In a large bowl, pour your balsamic reduction over your leeks, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well so each little leek is coated with balsamic goodness.
These are seriously phenomenal on their own, but I'm sharing them as part of a two part series to get you to this awesome version of a Soul Bowl: My Brazilian Bowl (inspired by an awesome meal I had at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro in L.A.)
So... to be continued...