When people think of leeks, they think of the supporting role leeks take in recipes — blended in soups and stews, infused into sauces, or paired with potatoes in what might be an otherwise bland dish. But leeks can be the star of the show. This dish of braised leeks and lentils allows leeks to shine by embracing their flavor and leaving them whole. By braising them, you get the true taste of a leek, which is far more mellow than one might expect. Pairing the creamy leeks with the toothsome green lentils is an excellent contrast of textures and brings a nutty taste to the dish.
Don't Skip the Vermouth
If there is one part of this recipe I implore you not to ignore, it's the inclusion of the vermouth. Dry vermouth differs from white wine in that it is fortified, meaning its alcohol content has been slightly increased. Even just one tablespoon gives this dish a punchy, aromatic quality. That herbaceous taste melds with the butter into a rich, comforting sauce.
This cozy recipe makes a wonderful side dish to roasted meats, or serve it as an elegant vegetarian main course. Put a big platter of these on the table alongside a leafy green salad and some crusty bread to sop of the extra braising liquid.
Braised Lentils and Leeks
6 medium leeks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Trim the stem ends of the leeks while keeping them intact. Cut off the dark green tops and remove any tough outer layers. Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Submerge in cold water for 5 minutes to remove any dirt from inside. Transfer to a colander and let drain.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the vermouth. Place leeks cut-side down in the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Add the thyme and broth. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Cover and cook until leeks are fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Remove and discard the thyme stems. Transfer the leeks with tongs to a serving platter. Pour the lentils and cooking liquid over the leeks and garnish with the parsley.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Reprinted with permission from Pulse Revolution: 150 Superfood Vegetarian Recipes Featuring Vegan & Meat Variations by Tami Hardeman, copyright (c) 2017. Published by DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.