Crispy Leek Greens, Sunflower Seed & Arugula Salad

Not sure what to do with those leek tops? It takes a few minutes, but fry them up and throw them in this salad with spicy arugula and nutty seeds! It’s a perfect spring side dish.

 

I’ve started “cooking on Instagram” on Sundays (and some Fridays). The idea is to “clean out my fridge before the next week starts”, and what that really means is that “I’m taking all the disenfranchised vegetables and meat scraps I’ve accumulated throughout the week and trying to make them look attractive and redeemable, for Instagram.”

It’s been a fun and sort of free-associating cooking experience, and rather delightful to publish into my stories and let the universe (YES THE UNIVERSE) have a reaction. Friends I haven’t chatted with in awhile keep reaching out and want to talk about dinner or weird vegetables with me – and that alone makes it WORTH IT. Who said social media never did nothing for the peoples.

Anyhoosies, I was really pleased with how this scraps-from-the-fridge salad turned out, and thought it deserved it’s own published recipe.

Congratulations baby salad, you’re going to college.

 

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The finished version had parmigiano reggiano, but the salad packs a flavor punch enough on its own it’s not needed (and if there’s a vegan homie getting in on this salad.) But cheese is nice. Choose your own adventure. 

Crispy Leek Greens, Sunflower Seeds & Arugula Salad

Yield: 4 side salads

For Salad:

  • Tops of 2 leeks
  • About 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Neutral frying oil, like vegetable oil or canola oil
  •  1 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula, washed and dried
  • 2 T toasted sunflower seeds
  • Grated parmiagiano reggiano, to taste

For Dressing:

  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or microplaned
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

Equipment:

  • pan for deep-frying (like cast iron, or other thick-bottomed pan)
  • slotted spoon
  • thermometer
  1. Thoroughly wash leek tops by submerging in cold water, agitating, then removing from cold water. Check for dirt. Let dry.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice leeks into 1/8″ shoe strings. Place into shallow bowl, and sprinkle evenly with salt. It’ll look like a lot of salt – you’ll be rinsing it off.344659353-1
  3. Set bowl aside while you make the dressing.
  4. Whisk together vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard & black pepper. Drizzle in olive oil to emulsify. Add salt, pinchful at a time, checking for seasoning. Once it tastes perky, a little sweet, and very flavorful, you’re there. Set dressing aside.
  5. Rinse off leeks and let dry on paper towels, dabbing to help remove moisture.
  6. Heat oil in large cast iron pan to 300 degrees. Once oil is heated, add about 1/4 of the leeks (you’ll probably need to fry them in about 3 or 4 batches.) There might be some water cooking off the leeks for the first few seconds, so stand back to avoid spatter.

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    Did a pretty crap job of editing the text on this one – probably because I was distracted by hot oil? Hooray for paying attention! 

  7. Fry until just starting to brown. Use slotted spoon to remove leeks from oil, and place on paper towel to drain.
  8. Once all leeks are fried and starting to cool, dress the salad. Toss arugula, sunflower seeds and dressing in a large bowl (remember, use the amount of dressing that YOU like. You might want more or less dressing on the leaves. Start with a little bit, taste, and add more as feels right.)
  9. Place dressed greens and seeds on serving plate, and add crispy leeks to top. By using crispy leeks as a garnish, they’ll stay crispy longer.
  10. Finish with grated parmigiano reggiano to finish, if desired.
  11. EAT IT.
This salad is *exceptional* when you get hearty, spicy arugula from a farmer. It blows the common grocery store fodder out of the water – however, the conventional stuff will get the job done. 

 

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