This leek stew with olives is a very popular dish in Romania, especially during Lent.
Lent can very easily be a 5th season in Romania’s culinary traditions, and it is dotted throughout the whole year, being observed not only before Easter and Christmas, but also at important saint days or religious ceremonies. In modern days, people decide to fast for different reasons, and although we are quite a religious nation, some of us do it for personal reasons, detox and even as a way to strengthen one’s will power. There is something empowering in giving-up and restricting ourselves to counterbalance this culture of ‘now’ and ‘instant gratification’. At the end of Lent, the feasts are welcome with even more excitement and gratitude.
Ingredients, the dish serves 4 people
2 large leeks – washed and cut in round slices, green tops included
1 tsp coriander seeds
50ml white wine
200ml vegetable stock
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
250g mixed olives, plain or marinated
2 lemons – zest and juice
Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of oil and heat well. Add the cut and chopped leeks with a pinch of salt and the coriander seeds, and cook on medium heat until well caramelised. Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate. Add the stock and the chopped tomatoes, and cook for 15 minutes on a low to medium heat. You can cover the pan with a lid, in which case you will need to lower the heat even more to a gentle bubble.
After 15 minutes, add the olives, lemon juice and zest, and cook for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
Although it is not traditional to add any other carbs, you can serve this dish with bread, rice or couscous.