I fell in love with leeks over 10 years ago, when I first made magical leek soup during my “French Women Don’t Get Fat” phase. Actually, I will likely be revisiting the book to get myself back on track again. There is a lot of wisdom in Mireille’s book.
This is a very simple, very healthy Sephardic version of leeks. They are cooked simply and deeply with tomatoes and garlic. The sweetness of the leeks shines through.
When I want a little more substance, I add some feta when I serve it. That adds a saltiness that takes the dish to a whole other level!
Sephardic Leeks and Tomatoes
from Susan Barocas, director of the Jewish Food Experience, printed in the Washington Post
4 large leeks
4 to 6 overripe tomatoes (may substitute 28 oz canned, no-salt-added whole tomatoes plus their juices, kept separate)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 small lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Seat a colander or large strainer inside a large bowl. Cut the white and light-green parts of the leeks into 1-inch pieces, transferring them to the colander as you work. Rinse under cool running water, separating the pieces to dislodge as much grit as possible. Once the bowl is full, drain and refill. Soak the leeks for 5 to 10 minutes, giving them a swish with your hand once or twice. Drain and rinse a final time, then drain.
Seed, then coarsely chop the tomatoes, separately reserving 1 to 1 1/2 cups of their juices. If the tomatoes do not yield the amount of juice needed for this recipe, add water.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the tomatoes, without their juices, mashing them slightly. Stir, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic (to taste) and cook for 3 to 5 minutes,
Add the leeks and the reserved tomato juices.
Stir to incorporate, then cover and cook for about 1 hour, until the leeks are soft and flavors have blended. Add the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste. For a more concentrated flavor and drier consistency, cook uncovered; otherwise, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve right away, or cool completely before storing.
Makes about 2 ½ cups