Because she is wonderful, when my flatmate Shana came back from her last trip to the States, she brought back some cooking magazines for me to flick through, and I found ideas that inspired this recipe. American cooking magazines are so much fun, British ones look like dowdy sensible aunties in comparison.
I had never cooked leeks in this way before. They had always been a hidden ingredient in something else, and never the main element of a dish. This recipe really makes leeks shine, they are sweet and oniony and delicious.
This would make a brilliant starter or side for two people (increase quantities as needed)
1 tbsp olive oil
75g natural yogurt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Approx. 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
Clean and trim the leeks, and cut them in half lengthways. A clever thing to do (which of course I forgot), would be to keep the stem of the leek, to stop them falling apart when you cut them open.
Arrange the leeks on a baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast them for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until softened with some delicious roasty dark bits.
While the leeks are roasting, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan (or put them in the oven), until they are fragrant and a bit charred in places. Let them cool and brush off any burnt skin with your fingers. Toasting really transforms the flavour of the walnuts so don’t miss this step out. Crumble up a few of them for the artful garnish later.
Make the yogurt dressing by mixing together the yogurt with 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, tarragon and a pinch of salt. Save a little of the tarragon for the artful garnish later.
To serve, arrange the luscious, roasted leeks on a serving plate, and use a grater to grate some of the toasted walnuts all over them. This might seem a bit odd, but it works really well.* Drizzle with the yogurt dressing and garnish with the reserved artful garnishes - tarragon, and crumbled walnuts.
*It was a bit of a revelation actually, as it is so hard to find vegetarian parmesan.