Sunday, June 26, 2011

Year-old Leeks Make Awesome Breakfast Sandwiches

As I was sitting down this afternoon to contemplate what delicious thing to blog next, it occurred to me that I never told you about a delicious brunch sandwich we threw together almost a month ago.

It was a fairly lovely weekend, weather-wise, so we decided to spend some time prepping the vegetable gardens for summer planting... pulling weeds, working the soil a bit, and spreading out whatever compost our bins had produced over the course of fall/winter.  But, it was also time, I decided, to pull the leeks!

For the second year in a row, I'd overwintered a couple dozen Bandit Leeks -- a cold hardy variety which produces nice thick stalks with a pleasantly sweet, mild flavor.  I love winter-hardy vegetables like the bandit leek for their ability to give me backyard-fresh produce so early in the season -- a true gift, especially after a long, hard Wisconsin winter.  And it seems a bit of a miracle to me, at times, that these lovely tender spring leeks are the product of an entire YEAR of growth.

These pictures are from our crop last year (this year's leeks were eaten down a bit by hungry bunnies, so they weren't quite as photogenic):
You'll note that these 2010 leeks have very long green tops.  Well, I learned my lesson and buried this year's crops of leeks quite a bit deeper this year, so we had longer, more impressive white stalks in our 2011 harvest.  But, even these short, nobby stalks were quite tasty -- and  a welcome spring treat.
After marveling at the way they survived even the brutality of this year's winter (during which we received record amounts of snow, and plenty of cold), I pulled a few of this year's leeks fairly early in the morning. Since it was just before breakfast, I washed them, sliced them into thin strips, and allowed them to sweat slowly in some sweet cream butter with a bit of freshly clipped tarragon (which was just starting to green up out in the herb garden).  When the leeks were meltingly tender, I added a few whipped eggs, cooking them up into a soft scramble.

We had leftover rolls from some Cuban sandwiches we'd made the evening before, as well as some Virginia ham. So, along with a bit of Swiss cheese, everything came together to create a lovely, flavorful spring sandwich.  You can just imagine the sweet, slightly oniony flavor of the leeks pairing just perfectly with the salty ham... and dancing gracefully on your tongue with the subtlest hint of cool, tender, anisey tarragon.
It was the sort of sandwich that would be perfect eaten right out on the patio as the sun was rising on a cool spring morning.  Can't you just feel the dew between your toes as you sip your coffee and take in all the vibrant green hues -- the grass, the budding trees -- along with the scent of the late blooming tulips and early blooming lilacs?

To me, this is the perfect kind of food.  It's the sort of dish that makes the most of that perfect moment in a given season. In this case, it's  lovely convergence of winter greeting spring, dormancy springing to life, and hunger meeting the ultimate in satiation.

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  1. This is absolutely perfect food. I'm rather jealous of your leeks. They look outstanding, no matter the length.

  2. Exactly what Melissa said ^^^ !

  3. Oh, that is one tasty looking sandwich!

  4. I need to plant leeks. Not sure now is the time, but I *need* to. When do you plant? Fall or Spring?

  5. We generally plant in spring (May)... they grow throughout the summer and then we overwinter them until the following March/April/May. We start harvesting as soon as the ground thaws enough that we can get them out!

  6. Man oh man. I *love* breakfast sandwiches, but I'm so lazy that I never end up making them. At least, not for breakfast. This looks like a perfect early summer dinner to me!

  7. That sandwich could be the perfect reward for enduring winter. Also, I didn't know there were varieties of winter-hardy leeks. Very cool.

  8. So why is there a wonderful looking sandwich without a recipe?


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