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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meet the mellow fellows of the onion family: leeks


By Carole Kotkin
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Leeks are a lesser-known but upscale relative of the ordinary bulb onion. Their stems remain cylindrical, however, and they're prized primarily for their mild flavor over the sinus-clearing clout many onions deliver.

Associated Press

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Golden scallops are served with sauteed leeks and shallots and orange slices.

MARICE COHN BAND | Miami Herald

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Though they are members of the onion family and look like overgrown green onions, leeks bring a mellower flavor. If you've had the cold potato and leek soup, vichyssoise, you know just what I mean.

Leeks are just as versatile as their round counterparts. They can be cooked with fish, poultry, game or meat and used in soups, stews and sauces. In general, smaller leeks are best for serving whole, and larger ones work well in other dishes.

Look for leeks that have crisp, unblemished green tops and firm white bulbs. To store, refrigerate, wrapped in plastic and unwashed, up to one week.

Because leeks are grown banked with soil (this helps keep the bottoms white by shielding them from the sunlight), they are very sandy and need to be cleaned thoroughly. Quarter them lengthwise to within 1 inches of the base and gently fan out the leaves while rinsing under running water. Trim off the root ends and chop or slice as your recipe requires. The white part is more tender than the tough green, which can be saved for making stocks and broths.

In today's recipe, leeks and shallots cooked in white wine and a bit of butter form a bed for seared scallops.

SCALLOPS AND LEEKS WITH WHITE WINE

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 tablespoon minced shallots

2 large leeks, white parts only, washed well and thinly sliced crosswise

1/2 cup dry white wine

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

16 sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

2 oranges, peeled and segmented

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over low heat. Add shallots and leeks, and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add wine; season with salt and pepper. Simmer until leeks are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops to skillet in a single layer, and cook until just golden brown on both sides. Divide leek mixture among 4 plates. Top with scallops and sprinkle with dill. Garnish with orange segments. Makes 4 servings.

Add rice, a green salad and crusty bread, and your supper is complete.

Per serving: 277 calories (29 percent from fat), 8.9 g fat (3.3 g saturated, 3.6 g monounsaturated), 51 mg cholesterol, 22 g protein, 22.7 g carbohydrates, 4.4 g fiber, 206 mg sodium.

Recipe adapted from chef Philippe Reynaud, Ocean Reef Club.

Carole Kotkin is manager of the Ocean Reef Club cooking school and co-author of "Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere."

(c) 2010, The Miami Herald.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.