A fab Ottolenghi recipe for fried leeks with sweet and sour red pepper

August 8, 2010


Fried Leeks, sweet and sour peppers with creme fraiche

Just as the weather has started changing (what? ?? no guaranteed afternoon sunshine?  No barbecues at the drop of a hat??) high summer is upon us and the bag Chuck delivered to me last night was proof – Black Magic grapes, peaches and late summer plums. Oh yeah! This is what summer is all about. I filled the fruitbowl which we attacked after dinner, a peach went in this morning’s porridge and Auggie hoovered up the rest of the grapes. There are still lots of those plums left and while they are a little on the sour side, you can happily munch away. I had thought to do a crumble with oats but I doubt they’ll still be around when I get the time. Not to worry, it’ll be plums all the way from here on in so there’ll be plenty of opportunity for that kind of thing.

Basil from the Healys and Marc Michel’s gorgeous cherry tomatoes were next out of the bag. What a perfect combination. I did the simple thing (as I tend to) and quartered the tomatoes, shredded some basil and dressed the lot with olive oil, red wine vinegar and a little Maldon salt. Yum. I still have some left so a pasta for later is on the cards. Same ingredients really, except the vinegar and I may well go crazy and throw in some black olive. Perfect.

I was going through a pile of recipes I’d pulled out of magazines over the last few years and came across an Ottolenghi  one from his New Vegetarian column in the Guardian that I’d been meaning to try for ages. Fried Leeks with sweet and sour red peppers served with a crème fraiche dip. Basically, a new take on leeks (at least for me).  I love, love, love Ottolenghi but must confess I don’t often get around to trying his recipes– too many ingredients and I always seem to be in a mad rush when I’m cooking and just can’t deal with faffing around. My mistake. He’s amazing. It’s cooking that’s a mix of Israeli and Palestinian flavours and then some. This dish has so many things going on and it’s well worth the extra effort.

You start by poaching strips of red pepper (I used the Ramiro I got yesterday in the bag) in cider vinegar, sugar, pink peppercorns (these were tricky to source, at least where I live so I ended up raiding a pepper mix I had at home), coriander seeds  and cardamom pods. I wondered if the flavours would stick to the pepper but wow they really did. The crème fraiche bit was easy peasy – chopped scallions, capers which I love, lemon juice and a dash of olive oil. The leeks were trimmed, chopped, boiled in salty water then dipped in egg and Panko bread crumbs. Panko breadcrumbs if you’re not familiar with them are from Japan where they know how to fry without letting things get greasy. They are extra dry and quite fine and simply make everything beautifully crispy. You can get a big bag in the asian shops for next to nothing (sent Paul so don’t know exactly how much) and if you stick it in the freezer you’ll have them for ages.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s fried leeks with sweet and sour peppers with a crème fraiche dip

You’ll need:

1 Ramiro or regular red pepper cut into strips about 1cm thick

80gr caster sugar

100ml cider vinegar

200ml water

10 pink peppercorns

½ tsp coriander seeds

3 cardamom pods

5 or 6 leeks

150gr Creme Fraiche

2 Scallions

1 ½ tbsp chopped capers

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

Sunflower oil for frying

50 gr (a large handful) Panko breadcrumbs mixed with a pinch of salt

1 egg

Begin by putting the pepper, vinegar, sugar, water, pepppercorns, coriander seeds,  cardamom and a generous pinch of salt in a pot. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the leeks getting rid of the tough green leaves. Cut into 6cm long segments then wash well. Drop into boiling salted water and cook for about 15 minutes until semi-soft. Drain then lay out on kitchen paper and allow to dry off and cool.

Mix the crème fraiche with the capers, lemon juice and olive oil then set aside.

Heat about 2cm sunflower oil in a pan. Beat the egg then dip the leeks into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. When the oil  is ready fry the leeks  until golden.

To serve, drain the peppers and lay on top of or alongside the leeks and top with a dollop of crème fraiche or serve this in a ramekin beside the leeks. Fantastic!!


2 Responses to “A fab Ottolenghi recipe for fried leeks with sweet and sour red pepper”

  1. Moving soon and am I ever going to have delight in using these recipies and dining on the results! Yum;~)

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