23. April 2013

Leeks with Roasted Zucchini and Minted Cucumber Dip

I am really passionate about simple, whole foods that have a lot of flavor, taste delicious and aren’t a mess to make. I enjoy being in the kitchen, don’t get me wrong, and I probably spend most of my free-time (besides being outside) there, but quite frequently I get to cooking because I am hungry. Normally I start cooking in the late afternoon or around noon, when I have the time. Since I am an early bird, breakfast happens to be around 7 or 7.30 am.
Four hours later I will be hungry again, and if you’d ask anyone who knows me, she’d probably tell you that I can get really grumpy when I am hungry and do not get to eat, like immediately!
I must admit, that I haven’t really refered to leeks as a vegetable itself. Of course, I know that it IS a vegetable, but I never bothered to cook it and eat it on its own. Leeks belong into soups and that’s it. Oh, I was terribly wrong and I am so sorry for my ignorance.
This dish actually was a result of not knowing what to cook for dinner. I found myself at the supermarket, and with zero idea what I wanted to eat. Nothing sounded very appealing and to be honest, the shelves where almost empty and  there wasn't too much fresh produce left (it was 6 pm after all) that I could choose from.
However, they still had leeks and zucchini. "Oh great", I thought. "What should I do with those two?"
I kept on contemplating but in the end, I bought a bunch of fresh leeks and three zucchini.
On the drive home I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Leeks and zucchini? I had neither seen anyone eat those two vegetables together, nor could I come up with a recipe that would solve my dilemma.

Sometimes the best strategy is to just get started. I washed the veggies, cut the leeks into thin rounds, placed them in a colander, and wished for some "godly" inspiration.
Oh well. No such luck.
With the zucchini, I decided to go with an old favorite and just stick them into the oven for roasting. Never fails to be a hit!
Since I still had no idea what to do with the leeks, I thought it would be the best idea to steam it in a little coconut oil. So simple but it turned out to be totally wonderful.
I also made a nice tzaziki-like yoghurt dip to go along with the veggies to spice things up a bit.

The recipe:

As I have already said, this dish is very simple and I really stuck to the basics. Fresh thyme adds a nice flavor to both the leeks and the zucchini and the mint yoghurt underlines the light and summery theme. If you are not a fan of zucchini, I could also imagine this dish with roasted eggplant, pepper or even sweet potatoes.
It also makes a great side spread for a barbecue or summer brunch.

Leeks with Roasted Zucchini and Minted Cucumber Dip
(serves 2-3)

1 Tbsp coconut oil
5 leeks, sliced diagonally
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of ground cumin

Heat oil in a wide pot.Add leeks and thyme sprigs and steam on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until very soft. Season with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and a pinch of cumin.

Roasted zucchini:
3 zucchini, halved and cut lenghthwise
1 Tbsp olive oil
Fleur de sel, pepper
Fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
Place zucchini halves on a lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a generous amount of fresh thyme.
Bake at 175°C for 20-25 minutes or until soft and slightly brown.

Minted cucumber Dip:
½ English cucumber,finely shredded
200g (about 3/4 cup) sheeps’s yoghurt
3 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup mint leaves, minced
Salt, pepper to taste
Pinch of ground cilantro

Olive oil for drizzling

Mix the shredded cucumber with a sprinkle of salt and place  into a strainer. Drain for about 15 minutes.
In a small bowl mix drained cucumber, yoghurt, lemon juice and mint. Season with salt, pepper, and cilantro.

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