Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baby Leeks with Herb Vinaigrette, a classic French bistro dish

As I told you here back at the beginning of the year, Shirley has challenged me to try new recipes out of a different cookbook every week this year. I am trying to do that and I am sharing those recipes we think are particularly good and have a high reward in terms of taste for the effort put forth.

As I told you, she put the challenge forward as a way to encourage me to cook from a few of the many cookbooks in my library instead of buying new ones. I have done this but I continue to buy books on a regular basis, I can't help it, so I am not really achieving the goal of the original challenge.

The recipe for today comes from a new book by Laura Washburn I purchased a few weeks back. I have quite a few cookbooks that feature classic French bistro dishes like we serve at our Bistro Des Copains in Occidental, California. Everyone of these books include certain classics like French Onion Soup, Sole Meunière, Gratin Dauphinois, and Tarte Tatin.

Although many of these cookbooks have a recipe for Leeks Vinaigrette, I had never tried to make this dish until I came across some beautiful baby leeks at the farmer's market in Marin County, one Sunday morning a few weeks ago. I should mention this is one of the best farmer's markets anywhere including Provence.

"The French Country Table" by Laura Washburn

Baby Leeks with Herb Vinaigrette
Poireaux, vinaigrette aux herbes
Adapted from "The French Country Table"
Serves 4


1 1/2 lbs, baby leeks
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup safflower oil
a small handful of flat-leaf parsley
a small handful of watercress
a small handful of tarragon
3 medium sorrel leaves
a small bunch of chives, snipped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
freshly ground black pepper


Put the leeks in simmering water and cook for 7-8 minutes, until tender. Remove and set aside to drain.

To make the vinaigrette, put the vinegar, mustard, and salt in a small food processor and blend well. Add about 1/3 cup of the oil and blend for a few seconds. Continue adding the oil, a little at a time, and blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Add the parsley, watercress, tarragon, and sorrel and pulse again to chop. Add pepper to taste.

Pat the leeks to dry them off with paper towels. Arrange the leeks in a a serving dish, spoon the vinaigrette over the top, and sprinkle with capers and chives.

I added some boiled eggs because I like boiled eggs and I thought the color added to the finished dish.

Baby leeks with herb vinaigrette

I generally stick with the recipe the first time I make it and then make adjustments after I have done it the way the cookbook author intended. In the original recipe, the author adds two, thinly sliced shallots at the end rather than the capers which is a change I made.

If you come across some baby leeks or see this dish on a French bistro menu, you should try it. This recipe was simple and delicious. I like making this dish as it reminds me of my father, as it was one of his favorites. I will be keeping my eye out for baby leeks as we visit markets in Provence over the next few weeks.

In the words of Chef Jacques Pepin, one of my favorite television chefs and cookbook authors, I wish you happy cooking. Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.


  1. Send some over! It loos really tasty.

  2. I am so hungry now; it looks perfectly delicious. Do you use white wine vinegar?

  3. Angela Bell - Wish I could. The leeks are really delicious prepared this way. Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment.

    Eileen Dillard - This is a dish I really recommend. I have made it once with white wine vinegar and once with red wine vinegar and I think I preferred the latter. Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment.

    The Sullivans - Merci.

  4. I agree with your choice to add eggs - the color is great, and the flavor is a good compliment to the leeks. I love this dish, and make it often at home, with one major change: I broil the leeks instead of boiling them. I like the roasty flavor that the oven gives.

  5. Camille - I am so happy you left a comment and mentioned that you broil rather than boil the leeks. I love the flavors that charring gives to vegetables. I will do that next time. Have a great weekend.