Paris – Leeks in Vinaigrette
What can be more French than leeks in vinaigrette? We went on a wine bar tour with Paris by Mouth and tasted wines along with a few hors d’oeuvres in a couple of wine bars. The first stop was at Septime La Cave in the 11th arrendissement. It’s a small wine shop/bar opened by chef Bertrand Grebaut across the street from his restaurant Septime. You can stop by the wine bar and have a glass of wine with a couple of appetizers at their counter. I will tell more about the tour in the next post but I had to try and reproduce the leeks in vinaigrette they served along with a few other appies. I was blown away by the leek dish (it doesn’t take much it seems:). I am not going to tell you that this recipe tastes exactly the same as chef Grebaut’s (did you expect it to?) but it did turn out good so I thought I’d post it. Of course I have a limited kitchen and didn’t have all the nuts and seeds he used but will use them when I have them. The sunflower seeds were particularly nice.
At Septime the leeks were very slender and he cut them into a few bite size pieces and included some of the tender inner greens. I have had leeks vinaigrette before as well as made them a few times but chef Grebaut added toasted seeds to the dish that for me made it much more special. I didn’t have such slender leeks as the ones they served at the wine bar but the leeks I bought were fairly slender.
I poached them in salted water until tender and while still hot poured the vinaigrette over, made with lemon juice, mustard, olive oil and just a little honey. I wanted to make the vinaigrette with white wine vinegar but would you believe that I checked in at least 5 stores nearby and not one had white wine vinegar? I don’t get it. On second thought I could have made it a dark vinaigrette With balsamic or sherry vinegar. The dressing should not be thick like a mayonnaise. You should be able to pour it over the warm leeks.
If you venture to make this as an appetizer you need very slender leeks. Larger leeks can be served as a first course or a vegetable side dish. If you don’t have slender leeks you can cook and then cut them in half lengthwise, keeping the root end intact or keeping the sections together. To vary you can chop hard boiled eggs over the leeks.
I think it tastes best after marinating a few hours or even overnight.
6-8 slender young leeks
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Trim upper portion of the leek, removing the darker green part.
Carefully trim around the root end, removing the “hairy” bits , but keeping the root intact. At Septime the hairy bits were left on so I did the same, see pics.
You can also use the light green parts of the leeks so cut the leeks into approximately 3-4 inch long pieces, including the light green part.
Bring water to a boil in a skillet that can hold the leeks in one layer.
Add a little salts and the leeks, partially cover and cook at a simmer until the leeks are tender.
When they are done remove and drain.
While the leeks are still warm pour the vinaigrette over them and toss them around to coat with the vinaigrette.
Warm the teaspoon of oil in a skillet, add the seeds and nuts and toast briefly, being careful not to burn them.
To serve, lay leeks on a plate, drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the seeds.
Serve at room temperature.
1-2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey or a pinch of sugar
6-8 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake well. Alternatively, mix the mustard, salt, lemon juice and honey and whisk in the oil to combine.