Leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach









I am on a continuous quest for new vegetable dishes to ring the changes: alternative preparations, different seasoning spices & new flavour combinations who will not only rejuvenate the usual suspects of sides but add an exciting twist & surprise us with hitherto unknown delightful tastes (with occasionally mediocre results or sad failures). Even better, when those experiments turn out to be such marvels and immediately join the ranks of the favourites, like these leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach.

Elementary ingredients of Greece & the Levant give the leeks a flavour makeover: the various citrus notes of dill and sumach accentuate the inherent sweetness of the leeks while the seasoned creamy yoghurt refreshes and adds piquancy at the same time. A fantastic little side that goes with absolutely everything from Middle Eastern to Western cuisine, lamb tagine to pork chops, falafel or cauliflower fritters, roast chicken or this gorgeous citrus-spiced salmon. Did I say, it is a cinch to make? Well, it is ready in a few minutes: assemble the yoghurt dressing while the leeks steam, drizzle it on and finish with a final flourish of crimson sumach. Done. How fast was that?

It is so easy to treat vegetable sides as a necessary add-on and remotely pick one of the standbys in fridge, freezer or vegetable box, especially in situations when one is in a hurry, extremely uninspired or when a “can’t-be-bothered-to make-a-zucchini-gratin”-mood strikes. And we all have our regular fallbacks. But constant repetition of the same old same old makes dinner become forgettable, which is rather bad when you are trying to be mindful of what and how much you are eating. Add something unfamiliar to surprise your taste buds, make the meal more memorable and easily chalk up some more vegetable points – you know, increased daily recommendations and all that. *


Leeks with yoghurt, dill and sumach

Well, well, well, isn’t this a giant picture? Someone, totally enamoured with this dish and eager to eat, forgot to wipe the bowl. See, it is that good; especially with juicy baked salmon under a citrus-rose crust. Mmmmh.


* Yes, I am talking about two vegetable sides if we are having poultry, meat or fish and both of them are not potatoes! Or a starter like this lighting quick spicy carrot salad. Sorry to the sensitive or overworked or super-stressed (tempers are running high these days and opinions were vehemently voiced, including yours truly): I do not want to sound patronising or condescending or even preaching, I am just talking about my experience and what works for me/us.




Leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumac

Serves 4 as a side, adapted from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite


6 leeks (rather thinner & longer than those who look like short tree trunks)
juice of ½ lemon
salt & pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
75g (2 ½ oz) yoghurt (Greek or Turkish yoghurt with 10%)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tablespoons chopped dill
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
water or milk or buttermilk (optional)
(ground) sumach

Discard the outer layer of the leeks as well as the dark green parts & root ends. Clean the remaining white and pale green stalks and cut them into 4cm (1½ inch) pieces. Steam leeks in a steaming basket or colander over boiling water until tender (ca. 4-8 minutes, test like a potato with the tip of a knife). When done, dry the leeks with kitchen paper or a tea towel and place on a serving plate or bowl. Season and drizzle with lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Make the dressing while the leeks are steaming: stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, yoghurt, pressed garlic, dill, mustard and season with salt & pepper. I loved the consistency of the thick yoghurt dressing though if a thinner sauce is preferable to you add a little water or milk or buttermilk. Pour the spiced yoghurt over the warm leeks and dust with a generous sprinkle of red sumach. Eat warm or at room temperature.



Lauch mit Joghurt, Dill & Sumach

Für 4 Personen als Beilage, adaptiert von Diana Henrys A Change of Appetite.


6 dünnere Lauchstangen (lieber dünnere als kurze dicke, die eher Baumstämmen ähneln)
Saft von ½ Zitrone
Salz & Pfeffer
5 EL Olivenöl
75g Joghurt (griechischer oder türkischer Joghurt mit 10%)
1 Knoblauchzehe, gepresst
1 EL gehackter Dill
2 TL Dijonsenf
Wasser oder Milch oder Buttermilch (optional)
(gemahlener) Sumach
Die äußeren Blätter der Lauchstangen sowie die dunkelgrünen Enden und den Wurzelansatz entfernen. Gründlich waschen, anschließend in 4 cm große Stücke schneiden und über kochendem Wasser in einem Dämpfeinsatz, -körbchen oder Sieb 4 bis 6 Minuten garen bis der Lauch weich ist (wie Kartoffeln mit einem spitzen Messer anstechen).

Dann den Lauch mit Küchenpapier oder einen Geschirrtuch abtupfen und auf eine Servierplatte oder in eine Schüssel geben und noch warm mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen und mit Zitronensaft und 2 EL Olivenöl beträufeln.

In der Zwischenzeit die Sauce zubereiten: die übrigen 3 EL Olivenöl mit Joghurt, gepresstem Knoblauch, Dill, Senf. Salz und Pfeffer verrühren. Ich mag die Konsistenz der dicklichen Joghurtsauce, für ein dünnflüssigeres Dressing etwas Wasser, Milch oder Buttermilch hinzufügen. Die Sauce über den Lauch gießen und diese mit dem roten gemahlenen Sumach bestäuben. Schmeckt großartig warm oder bei Zimmertemperatur.


9 thoughts on “Leeks with yoghurt, dill & sumach

    • Seana, it is! And I have some more vegetable keepers to come.
      There is no need really to wait for tender thin leeks, this works fine with those bigger specimens that are around now. Just use the white and lighter green parts (freeze the rest for soup making) and adjust size or cooking times. Shoot a note how you liked it.
      Nicole xx

    • Amanda, kindred spirit, what a delicious quest it is: I am roasting squashes like a crazy, pumpkin-deprived person at the moment (Acorn & butternut) and eating them with basically on everything. I love early autumn and the heartier vegetables & mushrooms make such a welcome change from the summer’s bounty.
      These leeks are so good with salmon, are you doing the citrus-spiced one? Just a little advertising. 😉 N xx

      • I totally agree. I’m just going for an herb crusted salmon this time with mustard sauce. Your leeks will be on the side!

      • Salmon with mustard sauce is very well liked in our house, herb crust sounds super. Bon appetit & I feel like a proud parent anxious for the leek to perform well. Tell me, if they misbehave…

    • Hello Linda, leeks are so versatile, aren’t they? Definitely good in soup and a creamy tart (who could possibly resist those), also slow cooked and served with a dash of cream. This take on leeks was completely new to me and I love the freshness of it, even in those darker months ahead in winter. Is this combination known in the UAE as well? See you soon, got to cook dinner now (I bought lovely porcini this morning and maybe something with beets). N xx

      • Honestly, Nicole I don’t know if this combination is known here and leeks still an expensive vegetable here in Dubai, (imported from Holland and France). Have a great day. xx

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