Grilled Baby Leeks with Romesco Sauce

We absolutely adore leeks, a vegetable that looks like a large scallion, but imparts only a light, buttery onion taste, unlike its bitter cousin.  The leek is surprisingly versatile, and is excellent when roasted with other vegetables or poultry, or puréed for soups, such as vichyssoise.  
Here is an excellent recipe featuring simple grilled leeks with a light and healthy romesco sauce (originated from Catalonia, Spain).  We did substitute home roasted red peppers as we did not have any jars in stock, and served this with marinated grilled chicken. The response was excellent!  Enjoy!
  • 1 small ancho chile, seeded
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnuts
  • Two 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, toasted and torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons roasted almonds, preferably Marcona, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 baby leeks or thick scallions, trimmed
Light a grill. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small heatproof bowl, cover the ancho with hot tap water and soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a pie plate, toast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Let the hazelnuts cool, then transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Transfer the hazelnuts to a work surface and let cool completely, then coarsely chop.
In a food processor, combine the ancho with the hazelnuts, toasted baguette, almonds and garlic and process to a smooth paste. Add the tomatoes, roasted red pepper and vinegar and puree. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until blended and smooth. Scrape the romesco sauce into a bowl, stir in the parsley and season with salt and black pepper.
Brush the leeks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until charred all over, about 3 minutes. Serve with the romesco sauce alongside.
The romesco sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Courtesy Food & Wine Magazine

Stuffed Mushrooms

I have been using this recipe for over six years now, and this is actually one of the easiest recipes to get comfortable with.  It always adds flair as a side to whatever your entrée is.

You don’t need as much bread as they call for, though you will always end up with extra stuffing that it good to save to use with chicken breast or pork loin.  We use baby bella mushrooms for the better flavor and color, and it only costs a few cents more than traditional white mushrooms. 

 

  • 3 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 large (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter) white mushrooms (1 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Tear bread into pieces and pulse to coarse crumbs in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and toss with oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.

Pull stems from mushroom caps (to create space for stuffing) and finely chop stems. Put mushroom caps, stemmed sides down, in a lightly oiled large shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until mushrooms exude liquid, about 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

While mushroom caps are baking, melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chopped stems, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic, oregano, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Cool vegetables slightly, then add to bread crumbs along with cheese and parsley and toss well.

Turn mushroom caps over, then mound mushroom filling in mushroom caps, pressing gently (there will be some filling left over). Bake in middle of oven until mushrooms are tender and stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Courtesy epicurious.com

Roast Pork Loin With Shiitake and Leek Compote

  • 1 large leek (white and pale green parts only)
  • a 1-pound center-cut boneless pork loin
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Cut leek crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and in a bowl soak in water to cover, agitating occasionally to dislodge any sand, 5 minutes. Lift leek out of water and drain in a colander.

Trim any fat from pork. Season pork with salt and pepper and pat with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. In a 10-inch oven-proof non-stick or cast-iron skillet heat butter or oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork loin, turning it. Transfer pork to a plate.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In fat remaining in skillet cook mushrooms and leek with salt over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Put pork on vegetables in skillet and roast in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 160°F.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. If vegetable compote is too liquid, cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated. Stir remaining teaspoon chopped parsley into compote.

Slice pork thin and serve, garnished with parsley, with compote.

 

Courtesy of epicurious.com