In France, there’s a leek in every shopper’s basket – not a bad habit to get into. What a wonder simply cooked leeks are, simmered in salted water, butterstewed, or slowly charred over coals. They are a sweet, tender, elemental pleasure. But they require careful, mindful cooking.
For a delicious, simple way to cook chopped leeks, stew them gently in a saucepan with a good knob of butter and a small amount of water, until tender but still bright green, seasoned with salt, pepper and perhaps a little thyme. Spoon these stewed leeks over poached fish or chicken, add to an omelette, or stir into mashed potato.
Leeks vinaigrette with chopped egg Serves 4
Leeks vinaigrette can be wonderful or dull, depending on several variables: the size of the leeks, the quality of the olive oil, the care taken to cook them perfectly. Choose medium to small leeks for tender results. Another caveat: cooked leeks should have no crunch. Err on the well-cooked side. — 8 medium leeks (about 1.8kg) — 3 tbsp red wine vinegar — 1 tbsp Dijon mustard — 1 small garlic clove, minced — 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil — 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Bring a large pan of salted water to a simmer.
Meanwhile, trim the roots from the leeks and peel away any tough outer layers. Trim the tops but leave the tender green parts.
With a paring knife, make a lengthwise slit to halfway down each leek. Soak the leeks in a large bowl of lukewarm water, swishing to dislodge sand. Let stand briefly, repeat with fresh water, then lift out and drain.
Add the leeks to the pan and simmer for 6-8 minutes. The thickest part should be tender when probed with a paring knife.
Transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain and blot dry.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil.
To serve, season lightly with salt and pepper, then spoon the vinaigrette evenly over the leeks. Top with the chopped egg.