I usually opt for leeks in many recipes where you may use onions. They’re sweeter and more delicate, and a great way to maximize flavor. Here’s a simple, no fuss-yet satisfying way to prepare them. The leeks should turn out very sweet and tender and practically melt in your mouth. I recommend using smaller leeks than the ones pictured here if they’re available at your market, they’ll be more tender and easier to cut.
I finally picked up some at the farmer’s market recently, with the singular intention of making leeks vinagrette. It’s such a simple dish but so flavorful, a nice accompaniment to a meal. I was craving them ever since I had them at Mama Shelter hotel in Paris this spring. I flipped through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to see what she would do with leeks.
It was last winter when I was in Greenpoint with a friend, aiming for a local bakery that we serendipitously stumbled on a big warehouse filled with the set design items from the movie about Julia Child and blogger Julie Powell, Julie and Julia. Eureka! I got some excellent and very affordable items to add to my kitchen collection. The highlight was a large, blue willow serving platter and 2 traditional french bread baskets, wicker and lined with linen.
With limited cabinet space in my NYC apartment, I have strictly white dishes for place setting. When it comes to serving platters I’ve been acquiring “blues” along my travels, as you can see from the serving platter shown above. I’m a big fan of Blue Willow, I love the sparrows. My logo was inspired by an outlined scroll on the back of one of my grandmother’s Blue Willow hand me downs, where it looks like the ink is bleeding into the china. I still regret passing up the beautiful mortar and pestle at the sale, but I was entirely discouraged by it’s weight and having to lug it home.
The bread baskets from the film are like the ones you find in france, you can actually get them at hardware stores. They’re ideal for letting the bread rest but they’re also perfect for seving sliced, already baked bread. It was fun to spot various kitchen items I had acquired from that day, in numerous scenes of Julie and Julia.
Of course Julia Child has a recipe for braised leeks, after all, the french seem to LOVE leeks. It much easier to make than many of her other recipes found in the book. Here I’ve simplified it even more. My recipe does not require the oven, more convenient for warm days and nights when I do everything possible to keep the oven off. Leeks are incredibly good for you-boasting a slew of vitamins- A, C, K, Folate, Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Iron and Magnesium. I recommend going the extra mile and serving them with a simple vinaigrette.
4 cups water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons butter
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of shallot (finely minced)
Fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon honey
1-Tablespoon Olive Oil
1.Trim off the roots from the leeks. Remove the green part, leaving a small amount of the pale green intact. Make 2 slits lengthwise and wash thoroughly.
2.In a large sauté pan with lid, place the water, butter, salt. Pour in enough water to cover about 2 thirds of the way up.
3.Over medium high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, set the lid overtop the pan leaving a little crack for steam to escape. Cook 30-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the leeks.
4.Make the vinaigrette. Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil. Once thoroughly mixed, while whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
5. The leeks are finished when they are tender and the liquid is almost evaporated. Serve warm or room temperature with a drizzle of vinaigrette.