There are about a bajillion things I like about the arrival of spring. Leeks may be a distant runner up to things like flowering trees and sunnier days and rose champagne...but new, fresh, abundant produce is definitely a perk of the season. While leeks are technically available year-round in many places, they, like my attitude, improve with the arrival of spring. They're sweeter and more tender and at their peak. I first discovered them as a side dish at the restaurant Prune, in Manhattan (one of my all-time favorites). Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's version was buttery and decadent and hearty and taught me that leeks can really hold their own as the star of the side dish. They're no longer on the menu there, unfortunately, but my personal leek love affair lives on.
Because they're alliums (in the onion family), you can use leeks anywhere you would use an onion. But they're mellower, sweeter, and they're pretty, too. I love how graphically organized their tips are, like they're made of origami. You can use them from their sturdy white stalks all the way up to their darker green leaves - just be sure to rinse them well, as they hold onto a good amount of dirt (as everyone should in the spring). Below are four leek recipes I'd love to try. Like the ones at Prune, these leeks are the stars of the dish. I can't wait to try that frittata this weekend...
Happy spring eating!
(all photos, jamie grill photography)