There’s something distinctive about leeks that makes them uniquely delicious. I’m not sure what it is, but they’re not just any old onion. We’ve learned a lot about substitutions in cooking, but I truly can’t think of another ingredient that can quite capture their flavor. So when I saw leeks make their appearance at our local farmer’s market, I couldn’t wait to use them!
This recipe was intended as a stuffing for some acorn squash (another market find), but it was so delicious that we wanted to share it as a side dish recipe of its own. The flavor of the leeks mixed with the fresh sage and thyme made for a wonderful savory combination; we’d highly recommend using fresh herbs if you can get ahold of them! And if you’ve never made quinoa, this is a great way to try it out – it’s one of our favorite nutritious grains (and gluten-free, if you’re cooking for someone that is)!
Try this idea in a Thanksgiving or other special meal as an alternative to traditional bread stuffing.
- 1½ cups quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
- 1 pound leeks
- ¼ cup fresh sage
- ¼ cup fresh thyme
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Make the quinoa: Cook the quinoa following the instructions found at Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa, using 1½ cups quinoa and 2¼ cups water. While the quinoa cooks, complete Step 2 and 3.
- Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down, then chop it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. Rinse the slices thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt. Remove the leaves of the thyme, and chop the sage leaves. Roughly chop the walnuts.
- In a skillet, heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks, and saute about 4 minutes, just before they begin to brown. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts by placing them in a small skillet and toasting over low heat, until slightly browned (watch so they don’t burn)
- When the quinoa is done, stir in the sauteed leeks. Then add the fresh sage, thyme, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Taste, then add more salt or pepper to taste, as well as a drizzle of olive oil if desired. Top with walnuts and serve immediately.