Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

The mildest member of the onion family is also one of the easiest to use in dishes

As they grow, leeks get soil trapped between their layers, so it’s not enough to simply wash them. First rinse them under running water, then cut off the green part where it starts to fan out from the white shaft. Cut the shaft in half lengthwise, unless you’re cooking them whole. In that case, start cutting at the top and stop about 2.5 centimetres above the base, leaving it intact. Wash well under running water, gently fanning out the layers to remove any soil between them. 

New potato, leek & mushroom salad with dijon vinaigrette (shown above)

Makes 4 servings

A full-flavoured vinaigrette dresses halved, slender leeks, small new potatoes and tiny button mushrooms in this light-tasting dish that works well as a first course. Mushrooms hold the vinaigrette beautifully.

Vinaigrette

1  tsp. (5 mL) Dijon mustard
1  tbsp. (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1⁄2  tsp. (2 mL) salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3  tbsp. (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2  tbsp. (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk, gradually add olive oil. Taste for seasoning, then add parsley. Set to one side.

Salad

1  lb. (450 g) small new potatoes, scrubbed, halved lengthwise
Salt, to taste
8  small, slender leeks, rinsed and trimmed (leave whole)
2  tsp. (10 mL) olive oil
3⁄4  lb. (340 g) tiny button or morel
mushrooms, wiped clean (leave whole)
3  tbsp. (45 mL) chopped fresh chives

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add potatoes and salt. Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook potatoes, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer potatoes to a bowl; set aside.

Add leeks to the same pot of hot water and cook gently over medium-low heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. When cool enough to handle, slit leeks in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Using a large, non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes and chives; stir together well.
Pour vinaigrette over mushroom-potato mixture and stir to coat the vegetables with vinaigrette.

Place leek halves on a serving platter and top with mushroom-potato mixture. Serve immediately.

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