I have never liked appetizer duty. Ask me to bring a salad or vegetable and I’m
delighted. But appetizers are another story. There seems to be an expectation of
some kind of cheese-y,bread-y thing, high in calories and low in nutrition–like
that famous spinach dip made with an entire tub of sour cream and served in a white
bread bowl. Or that artichoke dip served with some white French bread and topped
with a layer of melted cheese.
Leeks have given me a new lease on life when it comes to appetizers. Just as requested,
they can form the basis for appetizers that are stunning, stellar-tasting, easy,
healthful and economical. In this fact, I have the French on my side.
According to F. L. Stagg, author of A Paris Cookbook, leeks in France are known as
les asperges du pauvre, or "the asparagus of the poor," because when stewed and cooled,
they can be eaten, “like asparagus, with one's fingers and vinaigrette or oil." But
they are far less expensive than asparagus!
So next time you get assigned appetizer duty, consider:
The Question: Is there such a thing as an easy, economical, healthy appetizer that
still tastes good?
Friends invite you for dinner and of course you say, “That would be great.” Then
like a good guest, you proceed to ask, “What can I bring?” and the host tells you,
“a little something to nibble on before dinner.”
There is another way to be economical with leeks–by using the parts that are often
tossed. Recipes routinely call for “leeks, white and light green parts only,” To
an unsuspecting home cook, that could easily to taken to mean, “toss the green tops.”
Yet those greens can be used in countless ways, in soups, stir-fries, sautes, skillet
dishes, casseroles and sandwiches, to name just a few.
To help you get started, check out our special section: Cooking with the Green Parts
of Leeks. As always , there is probably some sort of healthy karma that comes from
not being wasteful with food–and in the meantime, you’re doubling your vegetable
dollars and saving the planet. Not a bad deal!