Jack Adair Bevan’s burnt leeks with kale romesco
6 medium sized leeks
75g skin-on hazelnuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g kale, roughly chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
200g olive oil, plus extra, to serve
Large splash of sherry vinegar
2.5 handfuls of course breadcrumbs
Thumb of butter
2 big pinches of Pure Sea Salt Smoked over Oak
The award-winning food and drink writer Jack Adair Bevan has been kind enough to share with us a handful of recipes this spring, celebrating some of Wales’ finest ingredients, starting with an unsung hero of a vegetable: the leek. If you haven’t tried cooking them in this way before, you’ve been missing a trick.
From Jack : While this recipe is not a true Romesco sauce (a Catalan invention), it is a wonderful seasonal alternative. Think of it as somewhere between a pesto and a tarator. I often choose to cook the hazelnuts in their shells before breaking them open and toasting as it imparts a deeper flavour. To save a little time, feel free to use skin on hazelnuts.
Allow the fire to die down before placing the leeks directly on the coals. The idea is to completely char the outside layers, leaving the insides to steam. They will take around 10 minutes and be sure to turn them regularly. Once they feel soft to touch remove them from the fire and leave to cool. Next, gently toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes until golden, while they’re still hot you can wrap them in a tea towel and rub to remove the skins.
Preheat the oven to 200C/160C fan/400F/gas 6. Take your coarsely cut or blitzed bread crumbs and scatter them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place a few pieces of butter on top and put in the oven for a few minutes, shake and return to the oven until golden brown.
Bring a deep pan of salted water to the boil. Add the chopped kale and cook for 3 minutes, then scoop out into a bowl of cold water before draining in a colander. This well help the kale to stay a vibrant green.
Gently toast the fennel and coriander seeds before grinding in a pestle and mortar.
Place the hazelnuts in a food processor along with the crushed garlic, fennel, coriander, smoked paprika, black pepper and 2 pinches of smoked sea salt. Give this a blitz before adding the drained kale. Keep blitzing while you add a steady stream of olive oil. Add the large splash of sherry vinegar and adjust the seasoning if you wish.
Return to the cool leeks and carefully peel away the burnt layers to veal the fragrant cooked leek beneath.
Take a large plate and spread out the kale romesco, lay the leeks side by side on top and scatter a handful of toasted breadcrumbs over the plate. Don’t forget a good drizzle of olive oil.
IMAGE: Jack Adair Bevan
We’d heartily recommend Jack’s book A Spirited Guide to Vermouth, which is full of his original recipes – from a Blood Orange Vermouth and Tonic to a Rosemary Bijou. It also has contributions from some of our favourite chefs, including Russell Norman, Olia Hercules, Gill Meller and Jeremy Lee.