Serves 4 as an appetizer
LEEKS ARE NOW ONE OF THOSE YEAR-ROUND INGREDIENTS YOU CAN ALWAYS BUY AT THE SUPERMARKET. But to me, ever since I started working in restaurants, they signal a change of season and the beginning of autumnal dining. I’ve long been fascinated by how many different great preparations there are for this humble vegetable, from vichyssoise to buttered leeks with trout. In the fall, when farmers grow pencil-thin leeks, my favourite is leeks vinaigrette. For versatility, I’ve provided a selection of variations.
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1⁄2 tsp grainy mustard
• 1 clove garlic, grated
• 1⁄2 cup olive oil
• 1⁄2 cup grape-seed oil
• black pepper, coarsely ground
• 4 medium (or more if small) leeks, trimmed
• grape-seed oil
• 2 tbsp salt
• 1 hard-boiled egg, minced
• 3 tbsp mayonnaise
• 1 tbsp minced capers
• 1 tbsp minced dill pickle
• 1 tbsp minced shallot
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tsp white wine vinegar
• 1 tsp tarragon
• salt, pepper
• minced hard-boiled egg, shallot and hazelnuts
• thinly sliced white ham, salami, veal tongue or smoked meat
• chopped poached lobster, shrimp or marinated mussels
• toasted bread
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).
Combine egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a bowl; whisk until homogenous. Continue whisking while adding oils in a slow stream to obtain a creamy emulsion. Season with salt and pepper; whisk again and set aside.
Discard the green tops of the leeks; rinse the white stalks well. Arrange leeks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; sprinkle with oil and season with salt. Transfer to the middle rack of the oven until tender but not soggy, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool; peel and discard outer layer.
Cut leeks into bite-sized pieces. Split, then cut them into lengths of 2.5 cm (1 inch). Or slice leeks whole into disks 1 cm (about 1⁄2 inch) in diameter. Transfer to a dish, pour vinaigrette over top and let marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator). Garnish with minced egg or shallots or hazelnuts — or all three — and serve with bread.
Alternatively, eliminate the egg yolk from the vinaigrette and serve the leeks warm, as a garnish for a steak or pork chop, partnered with red wine sauce.
Or serve the leeks as we do at the restaurant. Combine all ingredients for the Sauce Gribiche in a bowl, whisk, and correct seasonings. Arrange cut and marinated leeks on a shallow dish. Spoon some extra vinaigrette over top, then the Sauce Gribiche. Garnish with sliced ham (or other substitutes) or one of the pescatarian alternatives.