The (perhaps surprisingly) star of this dish is the leek. You can think of it as a light, bright, crisp summer entree, featuring the leek and all its fragrant, fresh deliciousness.
If you’re new to leeks, they resemble scallions but are much larger. The white (bottom) part is primarily used for cooking, so look for ones that have long, thick, white stalks at the bottom, with rich, green tops.
Leeks are commonly used in winter dishes, but they’re also perfect in spring and summer. A relative of the onion, leeks have a similar tender, succulent texture but aren’t quite as potent. Many people who dislike onions actually find they prefer the leek for its milder, slightly sweeter flavor.
The major difference between the leek and the onion, though, is the maintenance needed by the leek. Onions can seemingly be browned and crisped to no end, but the leek needs a bit more care and attention. When cooking your leeks, let them keep their pearly white color as much as you can by using a lower, slower heat.
Not to mention, leeks contain a host of health benefits. It’s an allium vegetable, which means it’s full of antioxidant (specifically, polyphenols and sulfur compounds), antiviral, and antibacterial properties. In particular, they have flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione (the liver's most powerful antioxidant).
Leeks are also rich in nutrients and minerals like Vitamin B6, fiber, manganese, folate, and Vitamin C, to name just a few. They are at their finest when paired with butter (oil fails to bring out the wonderful flavor in this vegetable), followed by parsley, mint, and tarragon.
If you’d rather opt for a much lower carb meal, simply replace the beans with a protein like halibut or chicken (both pair well with the bacon). The beans offer tons of good fiber, but also majorly up the carb count.
Enjoy this stupendous and sprightly mix in a bowl for your summertime lunch or dinner!
Buttery Leeks with Beans and Bacon
- 5 leeks (any variety)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 12 oz beans (fava or white)
- 8 oz bacon, diced
- 2 thick slices of butter
- 2 tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped
- 1 handful parsley, chopped
- Wash and slice the leeks into 1/4 inch-round pieces (these should be thick slices).
- Fill a pot with water (enough to cover the beans) and bring to a boil.
- Cut bacon strips into finger-thick chunks.
- Add the butter to a shallow pan and add bacon; let the bacon crisp lightly until golden, then add leeks and garlic. Cover with lid while leeks soften, but avoid any color.
- While leeks and beans are cooking, shell beans and add to boiling water. Add salt to the water and let beans cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Drain and rinse in cold water until cool enough to touch. Peel bean skins by pinching between your thumb and forefinger.
- Once leeks and bacon are tender, stir in parsley, tarragon, and skinned beans. Stir for 2 minutes, adding salt and pepper as needed. Then serve.