So often leeks are the delicious basis for something else, like a good soup. This recipe lets the leek shine with other savory flavors that are meant to simply enhance. I love that this is a Lebanese-style leek dish, one that surprised me when I first adapted it from Hussein Dekmak’s The Lebanese Cookbook. The Lebanese are devoted to careful preparation of our vegetables, here with fine olive oil and a garlicky herbal undertone. —Maureen Abood
Trim the dark green ends of the leeks, leaving only the light green and white ends. Trim away most of the root but leave enough to keep the leek intact. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, but not through the stem that connects the leek layers, to clean them, removing outer layer and rinsing well between the layers. Slice off the root end completely and slice the leeks crosswise into 2-inch chunks.
In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil to hot but not smoking. Turn down the heat and add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. It’s very easy to overcook garlic; you are barely cooking it, just enough to bring out the aroma. Add the cilantro and cook for another 30 seconds. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan, bring 8 cups water to boil. Salt the water with 2 tablespoons salt. Add leeks to the boiling water and reduce heat to simmer. Poach until the leeks are just tender to bite, about 4 minutes; do not overcook because the leeks will “melt” and fall apart. Taste a leek every minute or so to determine when they are done.
Drain the leeks and add them to the olive oil mixture, stirring gently to coat the leeks completely. Serve immediately, garnished with more cilantro if you like.