This recipe was born out of practicality. I hate wasting anything, especially food, and leek greens have always bothered me because they aren’t very useful, but they’re twice as big as the part of the leek you actually use and I hate throwing them away. Now that I have my compost bin, I feel a little better about throwing food scraps in it because I know they’ll become useful in my garden at some point.
Still, when I got three giant leeks in my box this week, I couldn’t help trying to figure out something to do with the greens. They’re stringy and tough, but I still wondered if they could serve some sort of ancillary, possibly decorative function, in a dish. And then it hit me: they’re stringy, so what if I could figure out some way for them to tie something together?
I had some paper-thin slices of salami and a block of Gruyere in the fridge, which I knew would taste great together, but I needed a veggie to balance out the meat and cheese. Enter this monstrous celery:
I put a ruler by it so you could see how big it is, but I had to back up so far to get the entire thing in the picture that you can’t read the numbers. It’s more than 2 feet long, and made up of extremely thin, smaller-than-a-pencil thin stalks. I’m used to bigger stalks I can stuff with peanut butter and cheese and the like, so these guys were throwing me for a loop. I mean, sure, you can chop them up and use them like grocery store celery, but where’s the fun in that when you have two feet of celery to use up?
So, I used the leek greens to tie the celery, cheese, and salami together. You get a rich little appetizer that has some crunch from the celery, and a mild onion-y flavor from the leek green. And just like that, no part of the leek is wasted, and you have something fun to do with those tiny celery stalks! Just cut your celery and cheese into equal lengths, and lay a few pieces of each on a slice of salami:
Slide a thin, flexible piece of leek green underneath the salami — you can just gently tear the leek lengthwise, or slice it with a knife. Tie the leek green around the celery, salami, and cheese, and there you go:
Here’s a pic of the whole leek greens next to the ones I sliced up:
After making a few of these, I found that I liked them better when I used bite-sized pieces of cheese and celery, and cut the salami in half to fold around them. The celery can be stringy, so it’s easier to eat if you make these small enough to pop in your mouth in one bite.
Gruyere, Salami, and Celery Bundles
Note: You can use any mix of hard cheese and meat you want for this recipe. I wouldn’t use soft or crumbly cheeses, like Brie or goat cheese, because they’ll fall apart. I imagine manchego and serrano ham would be good, or even chunks of parmesan with prosciutto. Also, I’m not going to give specific amounts for each ingredient here, because you can really make as many or as few as you want based on how much meat, cheese, celery, and leek you have.
Leek greens, cut into thin, about 6-in long pieces
Small, thin slices of salami (or cured meat of your choice)
2-in long pieces of Gruyere (or hard cheese of your choice)
2-in long thin pieces of celery
Arrange a piece of celery and a piece of cheese on top of a slice of salami. Slip a leek green under the meat and tie celery, cheese, and salami together to form a bundle. Repeat to form as many as your heart desires.