French Friday: Leek - qual opportunities

Leeks have all the advantages: They're nourishing, cheap, and tasty."
Winter in Northern Europe for those of you resident there is not perhaps the greatest time of year for you to adopt the Mediterranean diet. With seasonal scarcities and a wide range of vegetables forsaken and Brexit hampering more exotic varieties, I have had to put my creative hat on to adapt some recipes and replace others to make this eating plan work in a different climate. I have taken the leek as a theme here. Always the bridesmaid never the bride, the honourable and dependable leek is a vegetable that we are able to enjoy all year round in Southern Europe, but for our friends in the north from my memory it only gets some respect in the colder months.Many will not have thought of using the leek in summer. It can add that je ne sais quoi and subtlety to a simple soffrito, refogado or tomato sauce.
One of the areas bordering the Mediterranean that is highly prolific in its numerous dishes that fall into the category of the Mediterranean diet is the south of France and in particular Nice and surrounding Provence. Nice is world famous for one particular salad the Niçoise. Here is my take on a winter version of the salad that can be adapted to being made as a wrap. My recipe is inspired by the classic leeks vinaigrette.
The origins of leeks vinaigrette, poached leeks in a mustardy dressing, are unknown, but for a great salad just pretend you are French for one day?

Winter salad Niçoise wrapped or unwrapped
3 thin to medium leeks cut into thirds

2 chopped hard boiled eggs ( 7 minutes exactly )
6-8 Runner beans
sliced on the diagonal
Black olives
Chinese leaves

For the vinaigrette-
(this will leave you with plenty to jar up and store in the refrigerator)
300ml extra virgin olive oil
125ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Flor de sal
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
generous sprinkling of Herbes de provence

Make the vinaigrette by placing all the ingredients in a food processor until well emulsified.
Trim the leeks and wash them thoroughly
Cut off the dark green tops, leaving about an inch or two (or three if you like the more strongly flavoured greens) on the shaft. Cut off the roots, cutting as close to the roots as possible, to help keep the leeks together while they simmers.
Bring a pan of salted water to a rapid boil.Once the water is boiling, carefully place the cleaned and prepped leeks into the water. Return to a simmer and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Start a timer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thickest leek can easily be penetrated with the tip of a sharp knife.
If your leeks are about an inch thick, they should just begin to be turning from bright green to olive-y green at the 8 minute mark. Thicker leeks you'll want to cook a little longer. Use tongs to gently remove the leeks from the pot and place into an ice water bath to stop the cooking.
Remove the leeks from the ice water bath and let them drain. Place the leeks in a rimmed, long serving dish (a Pyrex casserole dish would work for this as well). Drizzle some vinaigrette over the leeks. Gently turn the leeks over and drizzle a bit more vinaigrette on the other side.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the leeks marinate in the vinaigrette for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. (Chill if marinating more than 2 hours. The longer they marinate, the tastier and more tender they become.) The leeks should be served at room  temperature.
In a bowl dress the leaves lightly with some of the vinaigrette.Add the olives boiled eggs and finish with generous amounts of parsley.When you are ready to serve, compose the salad on a platter,arrange the leeks vinaigrette on top and finish with a scattering of chopped chives.
Alternative: carefully put inside a tortilla wrap and roll up in the normal way
*For those who are new here, please note that you can click here and check the previous post. 


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