David Lebovitz's leeks vinaigrette in his new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, is a perfect example of his ability to subtly add a bit of excitement to French food. He keeps most of the traditional dish intact—soft-cooked leeks drizzled with mustardy vinaigrette and scattered with a bit of hardboiled egg. But his addition of smoky bacon brings new life to the salad, adding salty sweetness and a bit of meaty crunch to every bite. The idea may have elicited a groan or two from his Parisian partner, but it is spot-on in my mind.
Why I picked this recipe: Leeks vinaigrette is a glorious spring dish.
What worked: Steaming the leeks is a smart move—it cooks the allium gently and keeps its subtle flavor intact.
What didn't: This may be blasphemy, but I thought there was a bit too much bacon in the dish. I'd back off by a slice or two.
Suggested tweaks: If you'd like to keep the dish vegetarian, you can certainly leave off the bacon. In that case, you'll want to season the salad more aggressively. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt would do the trick.
Reprinted with permission from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stoires by David Lebovitz. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:35 to 50 minutes
- Bacon Vinaigrette
- 2 cups (200g) thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons neutral-tasting vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 5 large or 10 small leeks, cleaned and left whole
- 2 hard-cooked eggs
To make the vinaigrette, cook the bacon over medium heat in a skillet until nearly crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain. When cool, chop the bacon into pieces about the size of tiny peas.
Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and salt. Whisk in the oils, 1 tablespoon at a time (the sauce may emulsify, which is fine), then stir in 1 tablespoon of the parsley and two-thirds of the bacon. Set aside.
To prepare the leeks, fill a large pot fitted with a steamer with a couple of inches of water. Bring it to a boil over high heat and add the leeks. Cook the leeks until tender; when you poke them with a sharp paring knife, it should meet no resistance at the root ends. (Smaller leeks will take about 15 minutes, and larger ones will take about 30 minutes.)
Remove the leeks and let drain and cool on a plate lined with paper towels. Cut the leeks in half crosswise, and arrange on a serving platter, alternating them head to tail.
Peel and dice the hard-cooked eggs and scatter them over the leeks. Pour the vinaigrette over the leeks and toss them and the pieces of egg in the dressing so they’re thoroughly coated, then scatter over the remaining bacon pieces and parsley.