I tried Leeks Vinaigrette for the first time late this summer while working at The Market Restaurant. I hadn’t heard of it before but instantly loved it, since I’m a sucker for mustardy dressings. Basically, it’s poached leeks with a mustardy vinaigrette, and is typically served with soft- or hard-boiled eggs. Simple, but delicious. The leeks are only cooked for a few minutes, until they become soft and tender, with a delicate onion taste. I skipped the eggs and opted for scallops and clams, along with roasted golden beets, blue potatoes, and turnips.
I got the gist of the recipe from Saveur, but tweaked a couple of recommendations (i.e. I used heart-healthy olive oil over peanut oil, and champagne vinegar over red wine vinegar. Either vinegar would be fine.) The recipe below is from Saveur, with a few edits and additions from me.
8 medium leeks, trimmed of tough green parts
Sea salt, to taste
5 tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
7 tbsp. olive oil
8 sprigs parsley
12 countneck clams
1 pound of “dry” scallops (not soaked)
Root vegetables: potatoes (blue, red, new, etc – not a hard-skinned potato); beets; turnips; etc.
1. Preheat the oven to 350, and clean and chop your desired root vegetables. Use parchment paper in a large baking pan, and coat the vegetables evenly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for about a half hour, although the beets may need a bit longer.
2. Starting about 1″ above root end, slice leeks lengthwise, but not all the way through. Open leeks like a book and wash well in cold running water to remove all sand and dirt. Bring a 12″ deep-sided skillet of salted water to a boil, add leeks, and cook over medium heat until soft but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Transfer leeks to a large bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. Carefully split leeks completely in half lengthwise, and transfer to a rack, cut side down, to drain thoroughly.
3. Whisk vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly, until vinaigrette is smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings and set aside. Depending on your preference, you could also use a food processor and very slowly pour the olive oil into the processor. This would result in a more creamy, emulsified vinaigrette, which is what I did. Or, whisk all the ingredients together slowly, following the instructions above, then mix in the blender. Remove leaves from 4 of the parsley sprigs, chop leaves, and set aside.
4. Steam the clams until they open; discard any that do not open. Remove the clam from the shell and chop.
5. Sear the scallops in a cast-iron pan with a bit of butter, and when they’re almost done (seared golden on both sides), add the chopped clams to warm them up in case they cooled down too much. Just cook the clams for a minute or two and then remove from heat.
5. Divide leek halves equally among 4 warm salad plates. Place the scallops in between the leeks, and the veggies on the outside of the leeks. Generously drizzle the vinaigrette over everything, and garnish each plate with a sprig of parsley…although I was so excited to eat this, I forgot about the parsley!
Perfect on a stormy night with a big glass of wine!