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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
Food52 Review: 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
Serves 8-10 (as a side dish)
- 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
- Clean the leeks, submerging them into water, and then cut them into 1 to 2-inch pieces.
- Put the oil in a pan, and once it is hot, add the leeks.
- Sauté the leeks by shaking the pan, so that they don't lose their shape.
- Once the leeks have begun to soften, add the onion and sauté. Add both sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- After a few minutes, add the tomato juice, the cinnamon stick and about 1/3 cup water.
- 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).
- Once the liquid has almost evaporated, add the prunes and shake the pan again.
- 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).
- 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.