Monday, 20 July 2009

dressed leeks with egg and parsley

it's hard to get excited about leeks. nothing against them but it's not often i cook them in anything other soups or casseroles.

in fact, i'd go as far as saying i can only recall one memorable dish in my life that involved leeks. it was the bacon, leek and caerphilly cheese bake eaten in a hotel in wales, appropriately enough. it was a place called montgomery on the welsh border, where we went to see the ruins of a castle in which john donne wrote the primrose (and, i reckon, had a bit of a thing with a married woman. okay, that last bit is conjecture but it made for a good dissertation topic).

i've no idea why the bake was so good though i suppose it's hard to go wrong with both bacon and cheese in one dish. also, their leeks were sweet and tender (we asked - they came from the hotel garden) against all that saltiness, and you get a nice contrast from the crispy bacon bits and the creamy, cheesy sauce.

this is a different kind of a leek dish altogether. less winter, more summer - it made a lovely, clean start to a roast salmon dinner.

don't bother doing this with those giant, woody leeks you seem to find in supermarkets these days. you need medium-sized, thicker than your thumb ones. and don't even think about using baby leeks - what exactly is the point of baby vegetables?

DRESSED LEEKS WITH EGG AND PARSLEY
for two, as a starter

6 medium leeks, most of the green bits chopped off
2 small eggs
a handful of parsley, chopped finely

for the dressing:
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
1-2 capfuls of white wine vinegar
50ml good olive oil

clean the leeks thoroughly - try not to cut the top bit off completely to stop them from falling apart but do rummage through the leaves as you get a lot of soil and grit stuck in there. boil the leeks in salted water for around 7 minutes - you want them soft to the point of a knife but not disintegrating. leave to drain in a colander (reserve the water in the pan), upside down so the water drains out of them as much as possible.

in the same water, boil the eggs until hard. douse them in cold water, then peel. grate the whites and the yolks separately on a medium grater.

now make the dressing - mix the mustard and half of the vinegar together and, whisking the whole time, add the olive oil slowly. it should all emulsify. taste and see if it needs more vinegar for a sharper kick. i think i overdid it and the dressing was a little too sharp. the original recipe calls for honey (it's by valentine warner, by the way) which i omitted - so go easy on the acidy bit.

arrange the leeks on a plate, pour the dressing over them, then sprinkle with the whites, yolks and parsley in separate bands. if you can be bothered to do that kind of thing. if not, chuck it all on top and eat.

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