Dancing Tomatoes

As the holidays approach, with the speed of light, I’m thinking about meals, of course.  What else is there to think about?

Run – Don’t Walk – to See Our Class Offerings!

I know, world affairs, those ships clogged up in the LA harbor (why doesn’t someone just send them to Oakland? There is so much room there…), and much, much more. But in our little warm world, the holidays and meals they represent are much in conversation, the warmth and togetherness they represent more important than ever.

Thanksgiving on the Weekend

For twenty five years I held a very large Thanksgiving dinner at my home, always on a Saturday night since children were in school and everyone worked during the week.  I’d roast a chicken and serve it with mashed potatoes on the day, but the real event was Saturday night.  Not afternoon.  It is impossible to hold an afternoon meal in a small town in Normandy. No one would come.

Simple, Bright, Delish

The dish I’m offering here was standard at my Thanksgiving, and it is a favorite throughout the autumn and winter.  It’s bright, easy, quick, and very dramatic to serve, so I offer it here for your upcoming holiday celebrations.  It replaces the roasted vegetable dish, which takes up valuable oven space; it offers bright, light flavor amidst dishes that are intensely flavored; it is so pretty you could almost dispense with a centerpiece for the table.

Prep Ahead

And while you’ll want to do the “mise-en-place” the day before, in the shape of cutting up the vegetables, lightly toasting the pecans, even measuring out the oil and butter, on the very day it comes together quickly.  Save zesting the lemon for the moment when the leeks are cooking gently on the stove, and from there it is “Finger in the Nose” (Doigt dans le nez) as the French might say, soooo easy and obvious!

Add to Your Repertoire

You’ll love the ease of this, but even more you’ll love its deliciousness. I suggest you add it to your Thanksgiving repertoire because it’s a little new, a lot bright, and hugely flavorful.  And everyone loves something a little new and different!

Bon Appétit!


When toasting the pecans, watch them carefully. They take about 7 minutes at 350F (180C).
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: butter, butternut, leeks, pecans
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large leeks thoroughly cleaned, trimmed, can cut into rounds ¼-inch (.6cm) thick
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 small 2 pound; 1 kg squash such as butternut, kuri, hubbard, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes (to give 6 cups cubed)
  • The zest of 1 lemon preferably organic, minced
  • 1/3 cup (3g) flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup (40g) pecans. Lightly toasted and coarsely chopped


  • Place the butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. As the butter melts, stir it with the oil. As soon as the fats coat the bottom of the pan, add the leeks, stir to coat them with the butter and the oil, season lightly with salt, cover, and cook, stirring regularly, until the leeks are tender and slightly golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the squash, the lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons of water and stir so the squash is thoroughly moistened. Season lightly with salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally and very carefully to avoid breaking up the squash, and adding water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep the squash from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the squash is tender through, 15 to 18 minutes.
  • Mince the parsley, remove the squash from the heat, and fold in the parsley and the pecans. Season to taste and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

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