You didn’t know me when I first came to NYC from Texas in my early twenties.
I was a dancer/singer struggling to get work and auditioning for shows. I lived in a tiny studio apartment in the West Village. And, believe it or not I didn’t know how to cook! I wanted to learn though. I tried many recipes in my small kitchen. They weren’t bad, but I knew I needed some lessons.
I heard about a cooking class at a little French restaurant called Le Petite Robert right near my apartment. I went to my first class and fell in love. I remember it like it was yesterday. One of the first dishes we made was a classic French appetizer, Leeks Vinaigrette.
I had never seen a leek before and had no idea what they were. For those of you in the same boat, leeks are vegetables closely related to onions, scallions, and garlic. In fact they look just like larger, thicker scallions. They can be substituted in any recipe that you would use onions for, and they have a milder flavor so they are great in more delicate preparations like soups and sauces.
I was shocked that it was so easy to make an appetizer that looked and tasted so luxurious. I felt confident that I could make it myself so I invited a new beau for dinner. And guess what? He loved my Leeks! He was pretty crazy about me too. In fact, I started inviting my dates over for dinner when I really wanted to impress them. This proved to be a recipe for success in many ways!
Leeks are at their peak just at the start of Spring, so this time of year I am always reminded of my sweet French cooking class and the fantastic dish I’m still making, years later.
If you’ve never cooked with leeks before, trust me, this is a great introduction. You can do this!
leeks still in the earth
Serves 4 people
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1- 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2- 1/2 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/8 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
- To prepare leeks, cut off the bottom inch and remove the tough outer layers. Make a cut lengthwise down each leek and wash very well in between all layers.
- Fill a medium pan 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Place leeks in the pot with a dash of salt. Turn down heat a little to a strong simmer and cook leeks until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 10 minutes. Drain and let leeks cool to room temperature.
- Combine mustard and vinegar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Then whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange leeks on a platter and season with black pepper, parsley, and chives. Spoon vinaigrette over leeks.