Cooking with Wild Leeks

Wild leek greens, fresh-cut tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinaigrette with mozzarella (or cheese substitute): YUM.
Some Better Farm family members and friends hit the woods yesterday to explore three Indian River Lakes Conservancy trails: the Grass Lake Overlook, Sugarhouse Trail, and North Ridge Trail. While climbing rocky slopes, jumping over creek beds, and taking close looks at towering oak trees, birds overhead, and bugs crawling around in the dirt, we also stumbled upon hillsides loaded with wild leeks:

Without any shovels, we set about digging the plants out of the ground with our hands. We made off with several handfuls of the flavorful onion variety, and took them back to the farm to prepare. Here they are, cleaned and ready to go:
The group decided to do an Iron Chef-style cook-off with our pickings. Here are our dinner menu and recipes:

Spinach-Artichoke and Wild Leek Dip (vegan)
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered (or quarter them yourself)
1 fistful of baby spinach
6 to 8 wild leeks
2 T vegan cream cheese
2 T vegan mayonnaise
1/4 C vegan shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
note: all vegan cheeses and mayonnaise may be subbed out if desired

Pre-heat the oven for 350 degrees.  Cut root stems off leaks, then slice white bulbs thinly. Finely dice the leek greens and garlic. Sautee the leeks, leek greens, garlic, and quartered artichoke hearts in a pan on the stove at medium heat until the artichoke hearts begin to brown. Add the spinach and mix. When the spinach begins to wilt, transfer all ingredients to a bread loaf pan and add the cream cheese, mayo, and shredded cheese. Mix well and put in the oven for 10 minutes or until the top of the food begins to turn golden-brown.

Tomato and Wild Leek Bruschetta (vegan-optional)
Whole wheat rolls, cut in half
Sliced tomato (at least 2-3 slices on each serving of bread)
Leek leaves (just cut bulb off the plant and use the entire green)
Mozzarella cheese or cheese substitute
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Put your oven on low broiler setting. Lay bread on a cookie sheet, cut-side up, and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. Add one full leek green, then stack with tomato slices and mozzarella (optional: add cut-up garlic chives from the garden as a garnish). Put in broiler until cheese is melted.

Seared Chicken or Tofu with Wild Leek-Roasted Pepper Glaze
4 chicken breasts OR 1 lb. tofu (or combination of the two)
1 yellow or red pepper
5 cloves garlic
5 wild leek bulbs
2 T olive oil
Seasonings: fresh-cut garlic chives, rosemary, sage, basil, and dill, diced leek greens
Salt and pepper to taste
Stick blender
Optional: For a boost of flavor, dash of Bragg Liquid Aminos and/or Szechuan sauce 

Cut the pepper into pieces and roast it on the stovetop (heat on high) with peeled garlic cloves, leek bulbs, and olive oil. When the pepper and garlic are seared (black will begin to appear and the produce will noticeably soften), transfer the ingredients to a bowl and use the stick blender to blend them into a thick liquid. Coat your chicken and/or tofu with the roasted pepper glaze and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Then transfer your meat or tofu to a pan and dust with your seasonings (and additional aminos or Szechuan sauce). Cook on high heat, flipping twice, until your meat is done and/or the tofu is crispy golden-brown. Cut into strips and serve with a size of Israeli couscous.

Sesame Seed-Coated Carrots, Green Peppers, and Wild Leeks
1 green pepper
6 wild leeks
3 carrots
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 T sesame seeds
2 T olive oil

Cut the green pepper and carrots into thin strips. Chop the leeks thinly, and dice the leek greens and garlic. Add these ingredients to a wok and toss in the olive oil and liquid aminos. Cook on high until produce starts to soften, then reduce heat to low, stirring frequently until the vegetables are lightly browned. Coat in sesame seeds and serve.

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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.