Challenge: Give Your Favorite Veggie More Love

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While Linz and I have been living in other parts of the country we have enjoyed adding a letter series to the blog. With fashion we were able to help each other out with a Q&A series. Winter celebrations was all about sharing what was currently making us happy. As we shift our focus to food we are excited for the opportunity to challenge each other to be better culinary masters of our kitchen.

Linz: What is one of your favorite vegetables? Try a new dish with it.

Jess: I love leeks. This was not a vegetable I grew up eating, but have discovered the joy of in the last couple of years. I thought it would be the perfect produce to attempt to get creative with because I honestly don’t have that many dishes that I make with them.

I decided to try a recipe from My New Roots and fell in love. I have seriously made this dish, ummmm, 100 times since I first tried it. It is super dee duper easy, making it perfect for a weeknight meal plus just about as healthy as you can get, but doesn’t skimp on taste. I wanted it to be a bit more hearty so I added barley (any grain could really work as a base) and a poached egg on top. What really makes the dish is the combination of lemon and dill. I’ll admit to often skipping fresh herbs as they can be costly to buy (I know, I should really be growing my own!), but don’t leave it out in this case. There are few ingredients here, so the dill is there to do some work.

Let’s chat about the cheese situation for a minute, I bought really good quality feta for this dish. Not on purpose, it just kind of happened and then just like that I had a moment where I felt like an adult with my creamy, fresh, crumbled block of feta. Dudes! I didn’t realize feta could be this good. I think your everyday cheap feta works great, don’t worry that’s what I will be buying next time too, but oh man was it nice to try the real good stuff.

I am however tempted to grate gruyere, emmenthal, or fontina over the dish next time instead. The feta matches the dish well, but mmmmmm those other cheeses work so well with my leeks too. There always seems to be more ways to experiment with cheese. If you try this dish with a different cheese do let me know what you think, I’m curious.

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Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas and Feta

(slightly adapted from My New Roots)

3 large leeks
1 cup vegetable stock
1 can chickpeas
½ cup crumbled feta
1 egg (for each serving)
1 cup uncooked barley

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. liquid honey
juice and zest of one lemon
sea salt + pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bunch fresh dill


1. Start by cooking barley according to directions (or other grain of your choice).

2. While barley is cooking, cut and clean leeks. Use both white and light green part for dish.

3. Simmer vegetable broth. Add leeks and cook for 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.

4. Assemble dressing, make the dressing by combining all ingredients except for the lemon zest and dill.

5. Once leeks are done, remove, but leave vegetable broth to heat chickpeas and half of the dill in sauce pan.

6. Mix chickpeas, leeks, lemon zest and dressing in a bowl.

7. Poach one egg (more if making more than one serving at a time).

8. Assemble dish with barley on the bottom, chickpea mixture, crumbled feta (or other cheese of choice), poached egg, fresh dill and ground pepper on top.

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