Braised Leeks with Chickpeas, Saffron, and Dried Marjoram

The saffron is optional in this recipe ~ apologies for including a recipe with such an expensive spice!  If you can swing it, it is a delightful addition to this dish.


4 medium (or less if very large), leeks, cut lengthwise and washed.
1 large pinch saffron threads (optional)
1/2 cup warm water or chicken broth or chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon marjoram
a large pinch of dried chile flakes (optional)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
1 garlic clove, pounded to a purée


In a mortar and pestle, crush the saffron threads with the water or chicken stock, a bit of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Heat a heavy bottomed pan large enough to hold the leeks in a single layer over medium heat.  Pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the leeks, cut side down and cook until they begin to brown, about 6 minutes.  Turn the leeks cut side up and sprinkle the marjoram, a bit of salt and the chile flakes over them.  Pour in the saffron water and stock.  The liquid should come most of the way up the sides of the leeks but not cover them completely.  Add a bit more water or stock if needed.  Adjust the heat to a bare simmer and party cover the  pan.  Cook until tender (about 12 minutes).  Remove the lid for the last 5 minutes and allow the liquid to reduce.  Meanwhile, heat together: 2 cups cooked chickpeas and the mashed garlic clove.  Spoon the warmed chickpeas onto a serving plate and then gently arrange the leeks over the chickpeas with their braising liquid.  Drizzle with olive oil.