This appetizer dish is a tribute to the three foods Armida loved most from her farm: alliums (members of the onion/garlic family), eggs, and olives. In particular, Armida favored alliums, always growing many varieties of them to add to soups and sauces, and to pound into pesto for testaroli. One of my favorite ways to eat leeks is slowly roasted in a cooling wood-burning oven until they become crispy and slightly sweet. Roasting them in a regular oven produces a very similar effect, one that is complemented perfectly by a dip into a soft-boiled egg and a bite of salty olive. These leeks are rich, and make for a somewhat addictive and unusual hors d’oeuvre.
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Trim the bottom tips of the leeks, leaving part of the root intact so that each leek stays together. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and wash them under cold running water. Make sure to wash within their folds to remove any dirt. Thoroughly dry the leeks; this will ensure that they crisp during roasting.
  3. Toss the dried leeks with the olive oil and salt, and place them, cut-side up, on the baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, turning once during this time. The leeks are done when they are nicely browned and crunchy.
  4. While the leeks are roasting, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in the whole eggs and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. A 7-minute boil will produce an egg with a runny center, which is good for dipping the leeks into. However, if you prefer a more set yolk, you can boil the eggs for up to 10 minutes to create a hard-boiled, fully set center. At the end of the boil, remove the eggs from the pan and shock them in cold running water for a minute.
  5. Peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise, if they were soft-boiled, or in quarters or sixths if they were hard-boiled.
  6. To serve, place the roasted leeks, eggs, and olives on a platter. Finish by sprinkling the eggs with a little salt and black pepper if you desire.