Confit Leeks With Lentils, Lemon and Cream
Leeks slow-cooked in olive oil star in this hearty vegetarian main of lentils, lemon and herbs. These confit leeks are roasted and softened without browning, slowly releasing their flavor into the oil. The mixture could be spooned over baked potatoes or roasted chicken, but the lentils give the dish heft and bite, and the leek cream makes it extra special. If you can’t find French lentils, you can easily substitute other green or beluga lentils, or pearl barley or other grains. Serve this dish warm or at room temperature, and eat alongside some roasted potatoes for a complete meal, if you like.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 5medium leeks (about 2 1/2 pounds/1 kilogram), trimmed and washed, white and light greens cut into 2-centimeter-thick rounds (about 6 cups/620 grams)
- 10garlic cloves, peeled
- 10fresh thyme sprigs
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ¾cup plus 2 tablespoons/200 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾cup/150 grams dried French (Le Puy) lentils, washed
- ⅓cup plus 1 tablespoon/100 milliliters heavy cream (double cream)
- 2 ¼teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 5tablespoons/75 milliliters fresh lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)
- 3tablespoons roughly chopped parsley leaves
- 3tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill leaves
- 3tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon leaves
Step 1Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2If necessary, soak and carefully rinse the leek rounds in a large bowl of water to get rid of any excess grit. Drain, then cautiously pat dry, keeping the rounds intact.
Step 3Add the leeks, garlic, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper to a 12-by-8-inch/30-by-20-centimeter baking dish. Mix gently to combine, then pour the oil on top. Arrange the leeks cut-side up, then cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
Step 4Remove the baking dish from the oven and gently turn the leeks using two forks. Cover again with foil and return to the oven to bake until completely softened, about 35 minutes more. Turn the oven temperature up to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5As the leeks bake, fill a medium saucepan about two-thirds of the way with water and bring to a boil over high. Add the lentils and cook until just tender but not at all mushy, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Step 6When ready, remove the confit leeks from the oven and transfer a heaping 1/2 cup/100 grams of the cooked leeks plus 5 of the garlic cloves to a bowl for the leek cream. Add the cooked lentils to the remaining leeks in the baking dish along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper; mix gently to combine. Cover again with the foil and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and leave to settle for 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs.
Step 7While the lentils bake with the leeks, make the cream: Add reserved leeks and garlic to a food processor along with the heavy cream, mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of salt; blitz until smooth.
Step 8When ready, stir the remaining 4 tablespoons lemon juice and the chopped herbs into the lentil and leek mixture. Transfer to a rimmed platter and serve with the leek cream in a bowl alongside.