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Meatless Monday: Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta

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I say leek, you say potato leek soup? Many people are unfamiliar with how to cook, prepare, and include leeks in their diet, other than in the classic vichyssoise. Although they seem like more of a sideline vegetable, leeks have a flavor and texture special enough to be the center of attention. And now that leeks are entering their peak season, it's the perfect time to experiment with this tasty and surprisingly healthy vegetable.

Leeks belong to the allium family of vegetables with garlic and onions. As a result, they contain many of the same beneficial compounds found in these well-researched, health-promoting vegetables.

One very important nutrient concentrated in leeks, is the B vitamin folate. Folate is a key B complex vitamin for supporting our cardiovascular system, preventing anemia by supporting red blood cell production, allowing nerves to function properly, and can even aiding in the prevention of dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The highest concentration of folate is in a leek’s white, lower bulb portion (about 50% more than the rest of the stalk), but there is still enough folate in the green parts to also be considered beneficial.

I love cooking with leeks because their flavor is more delicate than onions, and their subtle sweetness never overpowers a dish like garlic can. This method is incredibly healthy, as it uses broth to cook the vegetable instead of oil. It also infuses the leeks with an incredible amount of flavor without added fat. Save the oil for the dressing and you’ll be preserving the olive oil’s delicate benefits.

Leeks and lemon seem to be best friends, so I made sure to include a lot of citrus in this dish. Using both the juice and the zest of the lemon is a twofer for flavor. I also threw in some freshly cooked chickpeas and goat's milk feta to make this a more substantial meal, but you could also omit them for a more simple side. Just don’t forget the dill---it’s divine!

Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
3 large leeks
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup chickpeas (canned is fine)
½ cup crumbled goat feta

Dressing:
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. liquid honey
juice and zest of one lemon
pinch of sea salt + pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bunch fresh dill

Directions:

1. Slice off the root end of the each leek, then cut the stalk into 1-inch chunks on the diagonal (see photo). Use both the white and pale green portion of the stalk, discarding the dark green tops. Submerge leek slices in a large bowl of water to remove dirt between the layers. Be careful the layers stay intact.
2. In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat the vegetable broth until simmering. Remove leeks slices from water and place each slice with one flat side down in the broth. Cover and let simmer for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
3. While the leeks are cooking, make the dressing by combining all ingredients except for the lemon zest and dill.
4. When leeks are just tender (do not over cook!), remove from pan with tongs and set on a serving platter, leaving the remaining broth. Pour chickpeas into the pan and heat in the broth for about one minute, tossing to warm through. Add half of the dill and toss.
5. Remove pan from heat and place chickpeas on top of the leeks. Pour dressing over top, sprinkle with remaining dill, lemon zest, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Sarah Britton is a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A Certified Nutritional Practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.

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Comments (16)

  • This sounds delicious! I'll definitely give it a try next time I have leeks around, instead of throwing them into lentil soup as I usually do.

  • So glad to see leeks getting some love! They are my absolute favorite vegetable, and so under appreciated.

  • This recipy was a great surprise. Very satisfying dish. Sweet and sour, lovely contrasts. I will certainly be serving it to my family and friends.

  • I'm going to save this for leek season in the spring when we get inundated with them. I love lemon and feta (and garbanzos), so I'm sure to like this. Thank you.

  • A vegetarian for almost 50 years, I can remember the "good" old days when people wouldn't ask you to a meal when they heard you were that lefty child of the devil a VEGATARIAN. Yes, you young ones, that's really true.
    My leeks are ready for digging so will make this recipe tomorrow. Love and all good things to you all.

  • Oh my word! This is amazing! Yum! Try it.. Its easy and amazing! I altered mine a bit. Used 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Udo oil, then added a can of tuna (extra protein to support my training) and Oh YUM!

  • [...] discovery was the Lemony Leeks dish, from My New Roots, a blog by Sarah Britton.  The recipe is here.  I eliminated the feta cheese to make it vegan, used up the remaining chickpeas I had cooked from [...]

  • This is delicious. Serving it tonight as a salad alongside extra protein. Flavours are fantastic.

  • It's great to be reminded that there are other ways to begin a dish than with heated oil. Sometimes I forget, and I think I miss out on a whole lot of freshness, and lightness, because of it. Thank you Sarah B!

  • This was delicious, flavours fantastic and so fresh..

  • I just made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious! What an unexpected salad! Thanks, Sarah, for developing and posting this.

  • [...] We ate this salad this week. Leeks, chickpeas, feta…it’s the salad of my [...]

  • [...] I made this for dinner last week. Leeks aren’t in season, but I had a craving for something light and delicious and this totally hit the spot. I made it for Ivan and my Dad and they both loved it. I think that makes it a repeat dish! We didn’t serve it with anything, but if you have a bunch of hearty eaters it could be a good side salad to fish or chicken. Or add more chickpeas if you’re vegetarian!? [...]

  • [...] excited to try from Pinterest: Featured above: 1. Quinoa with corn, kale, tofu, and pesto (pin) 2. Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta (pin) 3. Delicata Squash Salad with Feta and Cranberries (pin) 4. Quinoa Taco Salad (pin) 5. [...]

  • [...] forward to re-creating this salad with produce from our own garden:) I paired this salad up with Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta, a recipe I found from Whole Living, it was [...]

  • [...] Lemony Leeks with ChickPeas and Feta http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2011/10/meatless-monday-lemony-leeks-with-chickpeas-and-feta... [...]

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