French in a Flash: Quick-Braised Young Leeks with Parmesan and Thyme Recipe

French in a Flash: Quick-Braised Young Leeks with Parmesan and Thyme Recipe

[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

Sometimes for FIAF recipes, I have a very distinct idea of what to make. Like, Celeriac Remoulade. I pace and puff and pout my way around a supermarket, hunting for the celery roots that are never going to be found, because they're not in season. This week, I did as the French do (probably very appropriate given the nature of this column), and just wandered the produce aisle, looking for something to strike my fancy.

And I found them. Baby leeks.

They've been trendy for a while, which is not something you say everyday about leeks.

My flavor inspiration came from Thanksgiving stuffing; the onion and thyme action is in each salty bite. I do a quick blanch on the leeks, then toss them with olive oil and whole thyme leaves and a bit of nutty Parmesan, then put them into a hot oven to have everything crisp and crumble into each other. The result is such a beautiful, unusual side dish, full of soft, mellow onion flavor, and charred, woodsy strands of thyme, and nutty, salty Parmesan.

  • Yield:2
  • Active time: 5 minutes
  • Total time:10 minutes


  • 6 ounces baby leeks, tips and dark greens trimmed away
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 10 small sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve the leeks lengthwise. Place the butter and water and salt in a sauté pan over high heat. Add the leeks in a single layer, and place the lid askew over the pot. Cook until the water has just evaporate, about 7 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Gently toss the leeks with the olive oil and add the whole thyme sprigs. Roast in the oven until just slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Scatter the Parmesan over the leeks, and return to the oven for 1 minute more. Serve on the side, or on top, of chicken or fish.