Leeks are kind of the ‘red-headed step child’ of Allium vegetables—a family that also includes garlic, onions and shallots—but they shouldn’t be. Like onions and garlic, leeks are high in health-promoting flavonoids, antioxidants and the B-vitamin folate. Yet their flavor is more delicate than onions, which means you can add them to a recipe without overpowering other flavors.
Leek are at their best from roughly October through May, so I’ve been trying to cook with them a lot lately before they go out of season and are harder to find. This Middle Eastern-inspired dish pairs leeks with green lentils (which cook quicker and hold their shape better than red or yellow lentils), shrimp and rich dried dates. Its base is bulgur wheat, a quick-cooking, slightly-nutty tasting whole grain best known as a tabouli ingredient that has more nutritional value than rice or couscous. Easy and quick to make and tasty hot or cold, this salad makes a great lunch dish or picnic/cookout side.
Leek, Lentil, Bulgur, Date And Broiled Shrimp Salad
1 cup bulgur
1 cup green lentils
1 cup chopped leeks
10-15 medium, frozen wild-caught shrimp (tail-off; peeled and deveined)
12 pitted, dried dates
1 tsp each oregano, garlic powder, paprika
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp flaxseed oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
optional: 1 tbsp chia seeds
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cook bulgur and lentils. [For bulgur, use 2 cups water for every 1 cup grain.]
3. Chop leeks and cut the dates in halves.
3. In small bowl, combine vinegar, flaxseed (or comparable) oil and spices.
4. Spread leeks, shrimp and dates across bottom of baking dish or pan. Coat evenly with oil mix. Broil for 10 minutes, stirring half-way through.
5. When bulgur and lentils are cooked, mix together and stir in lemon juice.
6. Remove leeks, shrimp and dates from the oven, and let cool for 5 minutes. Then add to the bulgur and lentil mix.
7. Salt and pepper to taste. Throw some chia seeds in, too, for extra omega-3s.
* To chop leeks, first cut off and discard both the root end and the tough, dark green leaves, leaving only the white and pale green parts. Halve leeks lengthwise, then slice thinly across.