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Roasted baby leeks with thyme


Roasted baby leeks with thyme

Ingredients

• 20 baby leeks
• olive oil
• red wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

Serves 4

Directions

Baby leeks are just small leeks and there are two things that are exciting about them: a) the fact that they haven't had the time to develop many green leaves or the fibrous structure that can sometimes make them stringy, and b) they're definitely sweeter. For me, they signify late spring to summer cooking. The purpose of quickly boiling them in water and then roasting them, as I've done in this recipe, is to make them deliciously soft and then to caramelize them so they develop a robustness that makes them wonderful served over or next to fish and meat. They will also add an interesting flavour to pastas or soups. When I have friends round for dinner, I do everything in the method below in advance apart from roasting them, so all I need to do is flash them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. I like to serve 4 or 5 baby leeks per person, depending on their size. Lightly trim both ends and peel back the first or second layer of leaves and discard. Drop the leeks in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes to soften - this is called blanching. Drain them well (if there's too much water in them they won't roast properly) and toss in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, the chopped thyme leaves and the garlic. Arrange the leeks in one layer in a baking tray or earthenware dish and roast in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes until golden and almost caramelized. Keep your eye on them - I've seen many chefs burn baby leeks when cooking them this way and it drives me mad!