Leek Top Risotto

I love leeks, and I’ve never been convinced that anyone should throw away leek tops (also known as leek leaves). But most recipes only call for using the white and light green parts. So I’ve created several of my own recipes to use the tops. I’ve found that ,with a little extra cooking time, they melt in your mouth. Here’s my recipe for a risotto that uses only leek tops. You could certainly add the leek bottoms if you have them, but I usually have leeks on hand because I used the bottoms in another recipe.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Tops of about 5 leeks sliced horizontally in 1/4 inch strips (approximately 3 cups)

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup dry wine (I use red or white, whatever I have on hand)

1-1 1/2 tsp table salt (I use 1 1/4)

3-4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese (leave this out to make vegan)

3 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and black pepper, to taste.

Instructions:

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about one minute, stirring to coat with the oil.

3. Add the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed.

4. Add 1 tsp of salt

5. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the stock, a half cup at a time, stirring regularly until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next half cup. Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the mixture is creamy and a bit loose; the rice should still have some chew to it. Add the peas before you add the last 1/2 cup of stock. The process will take about 20 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped parsley and the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Stewed Black Eyed Peas

I wanted to make something really simple to enjoy my last black eyed pea harvest of the season. I looked at a recipe for stewed black eyed peas on the New York Times and, using this recipe as my inspiration, made this recipe for stewed black eyed peas:

2 cups Fresh Black Eyed Peas

6 cups water

2 Leek Tops (Green Part Only)

1 onion, cut in quarters

Tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, peeled

I put everything in my small slow cooker and cooked on high for 5 hours. The result was delicious. Flavorful, soothing, and with surprising depth of flavor. This is my favorite black eyed pea recipe I made all summer.

There was enough broth to use in another recipe. I used it in this one, and I suspect that’s the reason that the recipe was so flavorful. https://nimbleveggies.wordpress.com/2021/11/15/farro-with-mushrooms

Vegetarian Pho

I fell in love with pho while living in D.C. A restaurant called Pho 14 in Columbia Heights serves a delicious vegetarian pho made with a broth made from fuji apples. After I moved to North Carolina I found myself craving that pho and unable to find anything like it. Most pho restaurants that attempt a vegetarian pho broth use something that tastes like mock chicken broth to me. Not at all what I was missing. I decided to try to make it myself. I started by googling “fuji apple pho recipe”. This took me to this blog https://southofparadise.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/vegetarian-pho-with-homemade-fuji-apple-broth/. The person writing it was in the same position as me. Trying to recreate a beloved restaurant meal without any recipe. Using this recipe as a starting place, I’ve been tinkering with the recipe for the last five years, adding in some elements from this recipe when it was published a few years ago https://food52.com/blog/19080-how-pho-genius-andrea-nguyen-makes-a-richer-vegan-broth.

Here is the result.

Broth:

7 Fuji Apples (cut in half)

2 Carrots

1 Onion

3 celery stocks

10 peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds

3 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

2 cloves

  1. Put all the ingredients into an instant pot or a 6 quart slow cooker.
  2. Fill it up with water, leaving 1-2 inches of space at the top
  3. Cook on high (if your slow cooker has settings) for 10 hours

The idea behind this broth recipe is to make a concentrated broth so that it can be stores easily or combined with boiling water for a hot bowl of pho without having to microwave the broth. I put the broth in jars in the freezer and enjoy pho all season without having to constantly make more broth. I find that the right combination of water to broth is 1/3 broth 2/3 water.

Once you have the broth made, there’s only one more thing you need to make ahead of time before you’re ready for an almost instant delicious weeknight dinner: the tofu. I played around with various options for recreating the delicious deep fried tofu found in pho restaurants. I’ve actually decided that the best no deep-fry option is to bake the tofu. The tofu comes out crispy and tough. It’s not the same as restaurant tofu but it gives me the same textural satisfaction in the bowl. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit
  2. Cut a block of medium tofu into 2/3 inch squares
  3. Put 1 tsp of canola oil on a cookie sheet and spread it around.
  4. Put the tofu on the cookie sheet and spread it around flipping it on all sides to make sure all sides get coated in oil
  5. Cook the tofu, flipping it halfway through, until all sides are golden.

Now you’re ready for almost instant weeknight pho. Here’s how I do it. The proportions are for 1 large bowl of pho.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup of pho broth, left out to room temperature

1 cup Broccoli, in bite size pieces

1/2 Carrot, cut into 1/4 inch slices

4 Dried mushroom, in bite size pieces

1/2 cup Vermicelli rice noodles

1/5 block cooked tofu

Basil

Bean sprouts

Siracha

Hoison Sauce

Lime or lemon juice

  1. Boil 3 cups of water (I do this in a kettle)
  2. Put rice noodles into a heat-proof large bowl or pot, breaking them up so that each piece is 2 inches long
  3. Add the veggies to the bowl
  4. Add 2 tsp of soy sauce to the bowl
  5. Once the water is boiling, pour it into the bowl with the noodles and veggies
  6. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until everything is soft
  7. While ingredients are soaking, boil another 1 1/3 cup water
  8. Put the soft veggies and noodles, along with the tofu, into the bowl with the broth
  9. Pour in the boiling water
  10. Add lemon juice, hoison, siracha, basil, and bean sprouts as desired