This simple and traditional dish is as delicious as a more sophisticated hors d’oeuvre. This dish is a common find in Bistro cuisine, as by definition Bistro cooking must be easy, simple, fast and be able to be prepared in advance so it can be served quickly. My cooking instructor from the Ritz once said that the French inherited the term Bistro in the time of Russian occupation of Paris, where ‘bistro’ means ‘quickly’, when Russians wanted to have a meal under two hours. At home, “Poireaux Vinaigrette” was a classic in my mom’s cooking repertoire. Served as a common started for a lunch or a perfect opener for entertaining, it is also a great time saver as it can be prepared ahead of time.
Combining the leeks with walnuts and shallots adds texture and complimentary tastes. Look for young tender leeks as they’ll have a more delicate flavor. If you don’t find young leeks and the dark green parts are too tough, you can simply cut them off and use only the white/light green parts of the leeks for this recipe. Then you can always use the dark trimmings sautéed or added to vegetable stock.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
1/2 cup whole walnuts
2 tsp grainy mustard from Dijon ‘moutarde à l’ancienne’
2 tsp white wine vinegar
5 Tbsp olive oil (or more as needed)
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
A few parsley springs
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt or sand that might be stuck between the leaves or on the bottom roots, where the leaves are attached. Trim the bottom roots slightly making sure the leaves remain attached. You can further trim the roots after the leeks are cooked.