The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - THE CUT / FOOD -

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.

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