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Leeks, Kale, Lemon & Parmesan

This is a super tasty warm salad our niece Haley made for us last night out at WestWard. TPS made meatloaf with mashed potatoes–quite possibly the most comforting, homey duo ever. Her leek & kale salad a lovely balance. She walked me through it after supper, as I was taking a quick nap when she whipped it up. Ohhhhh, I do love Sundays…

Start with the kale, cutting away all the spines on the stems, leaving you with just those glorious leafy greens. Chop them up. Haley likes to put them in a big bowl and massages in salt, which helps to start break down a bit of the roughness kale can have. It just sits soaking up the salt while you get everything else ready.

In a good sized skillet, heat up extra virgin olive oil and add your cut up leeks. Sauté until soft and a bit browned. Then add another glug of olive oil and add the salted kale. Cook for just a few minutes to wilt the kale. Then turn off heat. Add the juice of half of a lemon and the zest of the entire lemon to the leek and kale mixture. The lemon will mix about with the olive oil creating just the lightest vinaigrette. Add a few cracks of pepper and a handful of Parmesan and the warm salad is ready to be served.



Leek, Asparagus & Pea Risotto

20120514-070219.jpg Leeks intimidated me. There, I said it. I feel so much better that I got that off my chest. I am not quite sure why they did. Actually, I think it stems from every time I would see them used on a cooking show, they would preface the use of them with how sandy and full of dirt they can be. Sand and dirt are not 2 of my favorite things to eat, so I shied away from using them in dishes I was making. Silly, silly me. I don’t know where those folks were sourcing their leeks from, because on my now second try at using them, very little dirt or sand was present. Oh, what I have missed out on. Leeks rock!

I was craving a big bowl of risotto last evening, and wanted to make a nice, comforting, filling meal as we head into a busy week. Risotto always fits the bill. I have posted 2 other risotto recipes, so use those as the base. Instead of using onions at the beginning, substitute leeks. Slice the stem in half, pull the layers apart, rinse in the sink liberally to get any particles, shake, dry with a towel, and you are good to go. The leeks elevated the dish last night. I cut them fairly think, so they were really part of the mix–playing equally with the peas and asparagus. Since asparagus is in season and so plentiful, it just seemed like a perfect fit for a sunny Spring night. Cut stems in half, scatter on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes till the asparagus is cooked, but still a tad crunchy. That bite will be nice in this dish. Set aside. As for the peas, I most always use frozen, unless they are at the height of season. The bagged, frozen peas are perfect for this dish. Just add them before you add your last ladle of hot stock to the risotto, and they will defrost right in the dish. Add the asparagus into the pot. Mix and cover for a few minutes. Once ready, spoon into a bowl and add a sprinkling of Parmesan. Enjoy the leeks!