Califonia Bountiful
Side Dish

Braised leeks with young celery and local dates

James Corwell

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4 leeks
2 celery spears, inner stalks, shaved thin
1 lemon, as needed
8 dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, roasted and crushed
1/2 frisee, washed and trimmed into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup Roquefort cheese, rind removed and separated into small pieces
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
4 tbsp. extra virgin California olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Trim and discard green stalk of leeks, leaving only white portion intact. Leave root intact as well as this will help hold leeks together as they cook. Place leeks in an adequately sized pot. Cover with water; add enough salt so water tastes well seasoned. Note: Other aromatics like thyme, garlic and bay leaves could be used here as well.

Gently simmer leeks, periodically turning over in water to ensure even cooking. Cook until tender and soft when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 30 minutes. When cooked, transfer leeks to a bowl; cover with cooking liquid and refrigerate until completely chilled.

Prepare celery by marinating lightly in a few drops of lemon juice and additional olive oil and salt. Prepare dates, walnuts, frisee and Roquefort as described. For the vinaigrette, whisk together sherry vinegar with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Before serving, use a sharp knife to carefully slice leeks into 1/2-inch medallions. Portion slices onto chilled plates and spoon some of the sherry vinaigrette over leeks. In a bowl, toss marinated celery together with dates, walnuts, frisee, Roquefort and remaining sherry vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired, with additional salt, pepper or vinegar. Portion date and celery salad on top of leeks and serve.

Serves 4

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