The modest beauty of this bundle of tiny leeks puts to rest the concept that big is beautiful. I needed fresh eggs which entailed some slipping and sliding across icy lanes to reach the farm of Mme Roustand, just over the hill behind the house, who sells the best eggs as well as a raft of delicious vegetables, pulses and locally ground flours. The crumpled 5€ note in my pocket turned out to be enough for 12 fresh eggs and a bag of these tiny leeks. My sole intention had been to buy a dozen eggs which would have been 4€ but, whilst bending to stroke their golden retriever ( how do some dogs just smell so much of dog?) I noticed the wooden box on the floor that contained these beautiful leeks so I had to splash out the full 5€ to have them. Sometimes I feel like I’m behaving like a Goldman Sachs partner – if I want it, I just buy it. The magic of leeks vinaigrette is that, if the leeks are small enough, the dish will be ready for eating very quickly. Trim the leeks and remove as many layers as you dare. Drop the trimmed ones into iced water, which keeps them firm and removes any dirt, whilst you trim the others. A shallow pan of salted water should be boiling on the hob, into which the leeks are dropped and cooked until a knife pierces the soft white tip. Remove the leeks with a draining spoon and place, white tip up, in a colander to drain. Gently pour a jug of ice cold water over the upturned leeks. Once they are cool, and thoroughly drained, put them on a plate and drizzle them with a good vinaigrette. I ate mine in front of a blazing log fire whilst watching England scrape a win against Italy in Rome and was amazed at the depth of flavour in these tiny vegetables in comparison with the lack of depth in the spectacle that 72,000 people had decided to watch whilst shivering in the snowy depths of Italian winter. Caligula might have chosen to do the same as me, by which I mean staying in the warmth and watching people hurt each other, but I think his choice of dish would have been at odds with my humble leeks. My guess is that he would definitely have gone for big. This recipe is from my book “Easily Fed” which is available from Blurb.com as an ebook for iPad or iPhone at the unmissable price of 5.49€.
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