Sunday, April 22, 2007

Confit leeks, tomatoes and mushrooms with arak and almonds


I have already told you about this wonderful book Saha. This wonderful recipe was in the section entitled vegetable mezze. It was really hard to pick a recipe up amongst so many. I really liked the idea of stewing the vegetables in such wonderful broth – with the arak (or a substitute in my case) At first I got a bit worried about the fennel – ‘is it going to work well with all these vegetables?’’ I didn’t want anything too sweet. I did not have the arak, in fact I had no idea what it was. After reading about it in the introductory note to the chapter I decided to use Pernod instead as it was the only thing I had at home. Arak to the ones of you, who don’t know, is an aniseed-flavoured spirit like so many others which are popular around the Mediterranean. The only difference seems to be that Ouzo, Raki, Sambucca and Pastis all are very sweet. Arak is set apart by the fact that it is pure, only containing two ingredients: grapes and the aniseed. Its flavour seems to be a great cleanser to the palate. I will most certainly check it out one day.

I found this dish to be a delicious and elegant mezze. I had it with toasted bread and it just proved delicious. There were some leftovers the next day and it tasted even more delicious than I remembered.

I though that it would be a wonderful contribution to this week’s WHB that is being held by Sher at What did you eat?

Confit leeks, tomatoes and mushrooms with arak and almonds

3 leeks, white part only, cut into 4cm rounds

8 shallots, peeled

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 bay leaves

Few sprigs of thyme

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

Juice of 5 lemons

400ml dry white whine

500ml water

400ml extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

8 medium Portobello mushrooms, trimmed

6 small vine-ripened tomatoes

80ml arak or another aniseed liqueur

Freshly ground sea salt to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil

60g flaked almonds, fried golden brown

Put the leeks, shallots, garlic, herbs and spices into a large, heavy-based non-reactive saucepan. Pour on the lemon juice, wine, water and olive oil and stir in the salt.

Cut a circle of baking paper to fit the saucepan and sit it on top of the vegetables. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook at a very gentle simmer for 20 minutes. Lift up the paper and slip the mushrooms and tomatoes in amongst the vegetables. Replace the paper and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the arak. Leave the vegetables to cool slightly in the liquid.

When ready to serve, lift the vegetables out of the stewing liquor into a serving dish, season with a little salt, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaked almonds.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes, the arka sounds worth trying.
Your adaptation of this veggie confit looks fabulous. I was hurgry when I started reading, now I must go have some lunch.
Beautiful dish.

Patricia Scarpin said...

That book has really won your heart, Tina - this is a recipe I'd love to try!

Sher said...

This is such a beautiful and elegant dish. It's pleasing to the eye (which is very important, as you know), and delicious, no doubt. A perfect recipe, I think! :):) Thanks for that.

Valentina said...

Tanna, I got really curious about Arka. there is a lot said about it in the book. I wasn't really sure about what to expect and I got so happy with the final result. It really surprised me.

Pat, it has. It is such a wonderful book. Because I did so many recipes of it at first I have decided to rest it for a while but I can't wait to get back to it again.

Sher, I agree with you. I thought that it was a great dish for this event. I'm glad you liked it too.

Helene said...

What an extraordinary entry! And such a special way to do it!Well, you really surprised me and of course I have to give it a try!! :)

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog through Patricia's Technicolor Kitchen. This looks delicious. I'm curious, though--what does the baking paper do to the cooking process that putting a lid on the pan would not accomplish? It sounds like a fascinating technique, so of course I have to know.

Kalyn Denny said...

This is the first I've heard of Arak, but I've had ouzo and Pernod so I'm trying to imagine the flavor without the sweetness. What a wonderful sounding dish. Great entry for WHB.

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