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Classic leek vinaigrette

For leek vinaigrette, look for smallish leeks, which are more tender and more closely resemble asparagus spears, for the French call this dish “asperges du pauvre,” the poor man’s asparagus.

This is important; a crunchy leek is unpleasant. Drain the leeks and hold at room temperature for up to several hours but do not refrigerate or they’ll lose their delicate texture.

To serve, simply smear the leeks with vinaigrette; we like a thick, sharp rather mustardy one to complement the sweetness of the leeks. Then garnish as you wish; capers, hard-cooked egg, olives and cornichons or gherkins.


8 small leeks, about 500 grams
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons capers
8 to 12 gherkins
12 olives
2 hard-cooked eggs, halved lengthwise



Trim leeks, removing tough outer layers and cutting off root ends. Leave a little green at the top. Make a lengthwise slit part way down each leek. Put leeks in a large basin of warm tap water and swish vigorously to dislodge any sand or dirt. Remove carefully, leaving grit in basin.

Fill a medium sauce pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and put in leeks. Cook at a brisk simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until leeks are quite tender when pierced with a paring knife. Drain and cool to room temperature.

Make vinaigrette: put mustard and vinegar in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Whisk in olive oil to make a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Blot leeks and divide among 4 plates. Spoon vinaigrette over leeks, smearing with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with capers. Garnish each plate with cornichons or gherkins, olives and half an egg.


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