Leeks are sturdy, surviving all winter through hard frost. Marinated in vinaigrette, with some chopped hard boiled egg to pick up the color, they are a popular appetizer all over France. They are best served slightly warm.
Serves 4 to 6
- 6 leeks (about 2 pounds/900 grams total), both white and green parts
- Salt and pepper
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup/125 milliliters/4 fluid ounces vegetable oil
- Thin string for tying
Trim the leeks, leaving a little of the green. Split them lengthwise almost to the root, fan them out, and wash thoroughly. Reshape and tie the leeks in two even-sized bundles with two loops of string. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the leeks and simmer, uncovered, until they are very tender when poked with the point of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes (leeks should always be thoroughly cooked). Drain, rinse with warm water, and drain again thoroughly. Discard strings and cut the leeks in 2- to 3-inch/5- to 7-centimeter lengths. Pile them on a platter or individual plates, arranging them on the diagonal, and cover to keep warm.
For the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar with the mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl for 30 seconds to dissolve the salt. Gradually whisk in the oil so the dressing emulsifies and thickens slightly. Whisk in the shallots and parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the dressing over the center of the leeks, leaving the ends uncoated. Sprinkle with the hard boiled egg, and serve warm or at room temperature. The leeks can be cooked and the vinaigrette made several hours ahead. Add shallot to the dressing and assemble the dish just before serving.
photo by France Ruffenach
Excerpted from THE COUNTRY COOKING OF FRANCE
by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.