An incredible leek stew with olives, a classic Romanian stew recipe, which is healthy, vegan, and more delicious than you could probably imagine.
This leek stew is one of those real surprises for me when it comes to cooking. This Romanian stew - Praz cu masline - really blew me away, so much that I ate almost the whole dish alone. So much flavor, you really have to try it!
Leeks have a strange fate in Romania, while adored in the South where they have become almost some kind of local “emblem”, they remain quite unnoticed in the rest of the country. But leeks are extremely popular in Germany, you can find them anytime anywhere, and they are always super cheap.
So I cook quite a lot with leeks. Have a look a this Rice and Bean Soup or this Parmesan Frittata. I put leeks in any kind of broths or stocks I make (I keep a bag of chopped leeks in my freezer only for this purpose) and use them to make a delicious casserole with leftver German dumplings.
How to clean leeks?
There is only one thing I would like you to be aware of in case leeks are something new to you: leeks need to be very very thoroughly washed.
Dirt finds its way between the numerous layers of the leek, at the transition from the white part to the green part of the vegetable, so you will have to actually separate the layers and thoroughly wash the leek in between the layers.
The best method to wash the leeks is to slit the leek from the top to the bottom without cutting it all the way through and then carefully separate the layers without taking the leek apart while doing it and wash them under running water until all the dirt is removed.
What to do with leftover leek greens?
- This recipe is another gem from Silvia Jurcovan's “Cookbook for the Young Housewives” a quite old Romanian cookbook. If you would like to try more of this author's recipes, have a look at the Greta Garbo Cake or the Easy Apricot Cake.
- Silvia Jurcovan uses only the white of the leeks for this recipe.
- However, I don't like to waste food, so I used the sturdier parts of the greens and didn't throw away the leftover green either.
- Use those for making soups, add to eggs, casseroles, or stews, make this incredible egg salad, or freeze the greens to use them for stock at a later moment.
- Don't stone the olives, remove the stones only when eating the stew. I honestly believe that already stoned olives don't have half the taste of olives still containing their stone.
- I buy my black olives in large containers in the Turkish shop, they keep well in their brine for at least a couple of months after I open the container and they are so much flavorful than their jarred, stoneless alternative.
- Warn the people eating that the olives still have their pit inside.
How to serve the leek and olive stew?
Serve as a main dish for two with only some bread on the side (and a nice glass of wine). Or serve as a side dish for four.
More leek recipes:
Leek Stew with Olives
- 450 g/ 1 lb leeks
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 250 g/ 8.8 oz tomatoes small ones
- 20 black olives with stone
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- a small bunch parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- fine sea salt
- 5 peppercorns
- some lemon wedges to serve optional
- Clean the leeks very thoroughly. The best method to wash the leeks is to slit the leek from the top to the bottom without cutting it all the way through. Carefully separate the layers without taking the leek apart while doing it. Wash them under running water until all the dirt is removed. Cut most of the green part of the leeks (See blog post for suggestion on using the greens).
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chop the white parts of the leeks and some of the sturdier green parts into 3 cm/ 1.2 inches segments.
- Heat the oil in a pot, add the leeks and ½ teaspoons salt, cover, and stew for about 6-7 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.
- In the meantime cut the tomatoes into wedges. I had smaller tomatoes, so I quartered each one of them.
- Caramelize the sugar in a small pan. Add the sugar to the pan and let it get darker. When it is caramelized, add two tablespoons water and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the sugar syrup into the pot with the leeks, add the tomato wedges, black olives, wine, bay leaf, ½ of the chopped parsley, lemon juice, and peppercorns. Adjust the taste with more salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Stir carefully and if your pot is not suitable for the oven, transfer the food into a small casserole dish.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and serve hot with bread as a main dish or with chicken/fish/ meat/ meatballs as a side dish. It can be served cold as well.