We've been having such a ridiculously mild winter that our first hard frosts did not arrive until the longest night of the year. We'd had a couple of mild frosts some time prior to that, but normally we'd have had twenty or more good hard frosts by this stage of the winter. One unfortunate result of this is that my leeks are starting to go to seed. So i'm getting serious about our leek consumption. Bought greens are forbidden - there are leeks to be eaten! Lots of steamed or boiled leeks as the green item in a meal, frittata in which leek features strongly; pasta with sweet leeks and mascarpone, and leeky quiches have all had their moment in the sun. And now this lovely recipe, found while perusing the internet in search of leek-inspired delicacies.
Although very closely related to Ray McVinnie's recipe i came across on the Radio New Zealand website, i've made a number of changes. I thought the dressing ingredients sounded delicious, but i changed how they are all put together, finely chopping the olives, mashing the eggs and upping the amount of anchovy in the dressing. Ray's version used only a couple of anchovies, but then another 10 are kept whole and draped over the leeks. I have learned to love anchovies as a mingled flavour with other ingredients, but i'm still not that keen on them in their unadulterated form, so i have omitted the whole fillets from the recipe.
Ray's version used only the white parts of the leeks, but i consider leeks to be a green vegetable, and thus i insist on using some greenery as well. However I AM quite fussy about which bits i use - only the softer inner green bits make the grade. I think my desire to use the green parts comes also from the desire to not waste what i have grown, so i eat as much as possible, before giving the remainder to the cows. I also chose to saute my leeks rather than steam them as Ray suggests, but you could (obviously) do either.
McVinnie suggests serving this as an entree with crusty bread, however i particularly enjoy this dish as a green side when we are eating an otherwise vegetarian meal; we had it the other night alongside a Pumpkin and Chickpea Bake, the recipe for which i fully intend to give you soon - it is another of my retro-inspired recipes i've been cooking of late.
SAUTEED LEEKS WITH EGG, CAPER AND ANCHOVY DRESSING
Adapted from Ray McVinnie's recipe on the Radio New Zealand website
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
4 anchovy fillets
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and mashed
5 or 6 Kalamata olives, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil for sauteeing
4 to 6 medium leeks, well washed, tough leaves discarded, sliced into 2 cm rings
Put the oil and vinegar into a bowl with the mashed, hard-boiled eggs. Mash the anchovy fillets to a paste with the finely chopped garlic. Add to the egg mixture along with the chopped olives, and mix well. Taste and season with the salt and pepper.
Heat the second lot of olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan until medium hot. Add the chopped leeks and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring regularly, until tender, but still bright green.
Transfer to a warmed serving dish, add the mashed egg dressing and sprinkle the capers over the top.