It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden; and it grew and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
The ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, and Romans, were all particularly fond of leeks, a mild-flavored relative of the onion. Apicius, an author and eccentric bon vivant who lived around the time of Christ, lists a number of recipes for leeks in his cookbook, Apicius de re Coquinaria. The slender, scallionlike vegetables, available at farmers' markets in early spring, are probably closest to those of biblical times. I like to serve this salad with Unleavened Griddle Bread.
3 large leeks
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1-1/4 teaspoons mustard seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Thoroughly rinse the leeks under running water. Trim and cut them crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick slices. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil, add the leeks, and cook until very soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, then place them in a serving dish and set aside.
Using a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder, finely grind 1 teaspoon of the toasted mustard seeds. In a small howl, blend the vinegar and the ground mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon this mixture over the leeks. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds, and serve at room temperature.
A Biblical Feast
Foods from the Holy Land
By Kitty Morse
Ten Speed Press
Hand-tinted polaroid transfer photos
Includes bibliography and index
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
This page created December 1998
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