You’d think a person would be able to remember from one week to the next what exactly she put into that leek stir-fry that turned out so well.

Fifty percent of the time, you would be right.

For the other fifty (okay, seventy), a record would be really helpful. Just so you have it written down never, ever to use frozen leeks in any dish, and that frozen swede will lower the taste content of your dish by forty percent. Scientific rigour is overrated in some forms of cooking. Buying a second bag of frozen rutabaga to verify the findings was just un-tasty overkill. The 10p you saved over fresh really, really isn’t worth it. Even not having to dice the damn thing isn’t worth it. (I’m not entirely sure about the taste of swede as a vegetable, but even I know (now) that fresh beats frozen all hollow. Benefit from my new wisdom.)

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to write these things down so you don’t forget to avoid the unfortunates. Or even better, so you have a perfect recipe for next time. You think you’ll remember, and you may.


That’s not a chance I’m taking today. So being the beneficent being I am, I’m posting my “recipe” for all to enjoy. If you’re a cook, just keep walking. If, however, you need to incorporate new veggie (or fruit) into dinner this week, this is very easy.

Leeks and dates

It’s ok to post pictures of dinner if there’s a recipe, right? Right, guys? Guys?

Leeks with caramelized onion and dates


olive oil
2 onions
1 1/4c couscous
2 1/4c water
2 leeks
1 red bell pepper
black pepper
1/3c chopped dates, dried or fresh. If you don’t have dates, raisins will do.

Serves 5-6 as side dish.

Dice onions. Heat olive oil in large pan, preferably a wok. Fry onions 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 1 cup couscous, 2 cups of water and some salt to a boil in a saucepan, then simmer, covered for 15 minutes, until the ring around each kernel is starting to peel and no water is left in the bottom of the pot. Let sit five minutes then fluff with fork.

Again meanwhile, cut leeks lengthwise, then chop into 1/2″ strips and add to frying pan. Dice bell pepper and add to frying pan. Spice to taste. Fry 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dates and couscous.

Notes: The caramelized onion and the fruit complement the green taste of the leeks, while the bell pepper adds texture. If you leave out any ingredients, I suggest substituting similar ones to keep the flavor and texture balance. I’d like to add flaked almonds or some sesame seeds next time for additional texture and added protein, especially if not serving with a meat dish. I wouldn’t mind grape tomatoes in place of the red peppers, either. Mm, so many ideas, so little chance that I’ll remember them long enough to get to the grocery store.