One-Pot Wonders

Greek-Style Leeks with Prunes and Cinnamon

January  1, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8-10 (as a side dish)
Author Notes

This recipe came to me from my Greek boyfriend's mother, who, in turn, adapted it from a Greek cookbook by Evi Voutsina ("Greek Tastes"). When I was looking for a way to cook leeks, she suggested that I go "Greek" and combine them with prunes, a cinnamon stick, olive oil and tomato juice, claiming that the dish is always a success when she prepares it for dinner parties. While I was initially skeptical, given what I perceived as a strange combination of flavors, the dish ended up being revelatory. The leeks become sweet as they cook, softening their otherwise onion-y flavor; the prunes transform the dish, adding a tangy note to a dish dominated by earthy alliums. And the cinnamon stick, with its dash of spice, makes the meal sing. In a way, this dish is nothing short of Greek magic. —dusty516

Test Kitchen Notes

All right. I'll be honest -- the prospect of a prune-cinnamon-leek-tomato melange struck me as a bit odd. But I trust in the Greeks. And after preparing this dish, I'm glad I did. The spicy cinnamon and tart tomatoes just work perfectly with the sweet, caramelized, slow-cooked leeks. And the prunes! The staple of immature puns, baby food, and nursing homes, or a rising gastronomical star? Take one bite of this dish, and I trust you'll choose the latter. —Macedoine

What You'll Need
  • 8 Medium-sized leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 8 ounces tomato juice (a small can of diced tomatoes, with juice, also works nicely)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 cup dried prunes (pits removed)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Clean the leeks, submerging them into water, and then cut them into 1 to 2-inch pieces.
  2. Put the oil in a pan, and once it is hot, add the leeks.
  3. Sauté the leeks by shaking the pan, so that they don't lose their shape.
  4. Once the leeks have begun to soften, add the onion and sauté. Add both sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. After a few minutes, add the tomato juice, the cinnamon stick and about 1/3 cup water.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and then, as the liquid begins to evaporate, to a gentle simmer. (The goal is to have most of the liquid evaporate; you may have to turn the heat up to achieve this. However, this will also help the leeks to soften).
  7. Once the liquid has almost evaporated, add the prunes and shake the pan again.
  8. The dish is ready when the leeks and prunes have both become soft and the olive oil and tomato juice have evaporated (following the advice of my boyfriend's mother, I put the leeks in the oven at 325°F for about 10-12 minutes to finish them off).
  9. Remove from the oven and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Prepare to fall in love with leeks -- if you haven't already.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)
    Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker)
  • dusty516
  • drbabs
  • creamtea

15 Reviews

Lisa C. April 11, 2016
Can this be made ahead?
Kelsey May 12, 2015
SO GOOD! the combination of the tomato and cinnamon with the leeks absolutely takes this above and beyond! thank you for sharing! i'll be making this as a side for my house warming party!! :)
Ordinary B. September 22, 2014
Any idea if I could make this ahead of time and rewarm or serve at room temp?
creamtea September 22, 2014
Rivki, I'm betting it would be even better made a day ahead and served at room temp. I'm going to try it myself.
dusty516 September 22, 2014
Hi Rivki, I agree wholeheartedly with creamtea. Making it ahead of time allows the flavors to meld. I often make it and then reheat it (provided that there are leftovers) and I have never had cause for complaint. In general, I would say that, regardless of when or how it's served, it's a very forgiving (and tasty) recipe! I hope you enjoy it!
Nancy April 28, 2016
Agree with Lisanne & Dusty516. I often make a similar long-roasted leek dish and it can be served cold, heated or at room temp. The key to making it palatable at cold or room temperatures is the acid (tomatoes and their juice here, lemon juice & zest in the recipe I use).
ortolan January 26, 2013
Just made this tonight with 2/3 can of diced tomatoes. I made it as a side dish for Ottolenghi's Poached chicken with sweet spiced freekeh from Jerusalem. The dish would have been unremarkable without the leeks--they made it transcendent! I highly recommend making this dish to pair with a whole grain meal. Thank you for the inspired pairing of leeks, tomatoes, prunes, and cinnamon!
dusty516 January 26, 2013
So glad to hear it saved the day (and so sad to hear that the poached chicken was a bit of a disappointment! I really liked the roast chicken with sunchokes and lemon from Jerusalem)! And thanks for the comment!
ortolan January 27, 2013
The chicken and Jerusalem artichokes is truly divine, I agree! One of my favorite recipes ever.
Tarragon January 24, 2013
Looks wonderful, like a Greek tsimmis!
dusty516 January 26, 2013
Thank you! Hope you like it!
dusty516 January 12, 2013
drbabs, thanks for your comment; I'm really glad you liked the recipe. Whenever I've made this, I've always ended up with enough servings (and leftovers) for a small group (6-8 people). It may be that our servings were small since there were a lot of things on the table--roasted pork, salad, bread, appetizers--and we were saving room for dessert. I can say, however, that, even with leftovers, it's always something that I wish I'd have made more of when the meal is over!
drbabs January 12, 2013
I made this for dinner with roast chicken last night. I used chopped tomatoes instead of juice, and added a couple of dashes of cayenne. We loved it--it was a great side dish to chicken. One minor quibble--8-10 servings? I halved the recipe and only have about 2 tablespoons left over after dinner for 2. (Maybe that's just because we both liked it so much.) Thanks for a great recipe.
dusty516 January 2, 2013
Thank you!! It's quickly become one of my favorite dishes to prepare; I hope you like it if you try it!!
creamtea January 1, 2013
This sounds delicious. Love the photo!