Friday, January 28, 2011

RECIPE - Leeks with Wild Basil (Alho-poró com Manjericão)

This very simply, but delicious vegetable side dish makes a great accompaniment for grilled chicken or fish. In Brazil, the recipe calls for manjericão, and although manjericão strictly speaking is not the same thing as basil (click here for more information), basil is the best substitute for Europeans and North Americans. If you're lucky enough to live in Hawaii, you can make this dish more authentically Brazilian by using wild basil, which is what manjericão truly is.

Although leeks (alho-poró in Portuguese) are a crop of temperate climates, they are part of Brazil's culinary tradition through the influence of Portuguese cooking. One of the most well-known Portuguese dishes, the hearty soup known as caldo verde, contains leeks, and this soup is as popular in Brazil as it is in Portugal. In the more tropical parts of Brazil, like my Brazilian hometown Fortaleza, leeks are expensive and can only be found in more-specialized greengrocers. Further south, where the climate is more temperate, leeks are cheaper and more readily available.
RECIPE - Leeks with Wild Basil (Alho-poró com Manjericão)
Serves 4

3 leeks
1 Tbsp. extravirgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
Trim the leeks then carefully wash them, separating the leaves to remove sand and grit. Cut them into thin slices (and 1/4 inch, 1 cm). Reserve

In a large frying pan heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil, then fry the crushed garlic cloves until they just begin to brown. Remove the garlic and discard. Add the chopped onion and cook until transparent but not browned.

Add the leeks, plus the one cup of water, and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes, or until the leeks are just softened and tender.

Remove from heat, season with the salt, then stir in the chopped basil. Put into serving dish and serve immediately.

Recipe translated and adapted from BBel UOL


  1. hi James, I am Brazilian and live in South Dakota, just harvested the leeks from my garden and found your blog--wonderful! Thanks for the recipe! I am from Rio and have never been to Fortaleza!

  2. Wow, it's a long way from Brazil to South Dakota, both literally and figuratively. Glad you found the blog and that you're enjoying it.

    BTW, you should come to Fortaleza one day - you'll love it. I have been to SD - Rapid City and the Black Hills. Very enjoyable.

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