I have a huge seminar paper due next week, so the theme for the next few days is going to be quick and easy, mostly with ingredients I already have on hand. After that amazingly delicious Cauliflower and Mushroom Potpie with the Black Olive Crust, I had a bunch of leeks left over, since you never seem to be able to buy just one at a time. Not that I'm complaining, because I really really love leeks. Rather than look for a fancy, involved recipe in which to use them, I decided to let them star in their own dish for once.
To Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian I went, hoping to discover the basics of braising leeks. Of course, braising is pretty simple, so it wasn't the technique I was after so much as some flavor combination ideas. Bittman suggests braising in oil or butter for a simple, classic preparation, or with vinaigrette, tomato, olives or even mustard. It all sounded pretty good. But while I was rooting around in my fridge, I discovered that instead of the vegetable stock called for, I had pomegranate juice. And instead of mustard, I had pomegranate molasses. And in addition to parsley for garnish, I still have some pomegranate seeds hanging around. I know it's not a classic combination, but I figured what the hay. So I give you Pomegranate Braised Leeks.
Pomegranate Braised Leeks
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 leeks, trimmed and cleaned
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
Fresh lemon juice
Parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds for garnish
Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to fit the leeks in a single layer. Once hot, add the leeks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook them, turning once or twice, until they are starting to brown. This should take about 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk the pomegranate juice and the pomegranate molasses together, then add to the skillet and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until the leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the leeks and transfer to a plate. With the pan uncovered, increase the heat to high and bring to a steady boil. Decrease the heat so the liquid continues to boil at a steady speed. Allow the liquid to reduce by about half until it begins to thicken into a syrup. When a spoon dipped into the liquid remains coated, you're done. This should take just between 10 and 15 minutes.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over the leeks, taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of syrup.
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I'm sending this in to Culinarty for the monthly Original Recipe Round-up!