You Don’t Have To Turn Your Oven On For This Spring Meal-That-Isn’t-Really-A-Meal
Leeks vinaigrette will be your new favorite low effort, highly impressive spring dish.
In the spring, I am coming out of a winter of heavy meals prepared in a cast-iron enameled Dutch oven, and I sometimes cannot be bothered to cook, or to turn on my oven. Around the same time, you can go to the farmer’s market and for the first weekend in many months you can buy a vegetable that is not a potato. Chives, green garlic, and ramps are all scattered among the tables under a tent on the Grand Army Plaza concrete area, and so are leeks.
I have tended to avoid cooking with leeks in part because they are annoying to clean and I am lazy. They tend to have dirt pushed up between each leek layer, which I have since learned is because of how they’re grown. To grow leeks, many farmers use a technique called blanching. Blanching consists of pushing soil up high around the stalk of the plant so it stays white — and consequently more tender — as it grows. Unfortunately this also leads to the leeks being full of dirt. The way to fix this is to wash between every single leek leaf (I do not know if this is the technical term) but sometimes you miss a spot and later take a bite of leek and end up chomping down on some sandy dirt, which is obviously disgusting.
However, after having exactly one life-changing lunch at the bar at much-lauded (perhaps overly lauded) Italian restaurant Via Carota, which consisted of many things but particularly a dish called porri alla cenere, which literally seems to translate to leeks to the ashes but was in fact a charred leek in vinaigrette with sheep’s curd, I knew I had my work cut out for me to make my own leeks vinaigrette, a perfect spring dish.
Everyone who makes leeks vinaigrette seems to have a different way of doing it. I studied many recipes and several YouTube tutorials before endeavoring to make my own bastardized version. Some people insist you add hard-boiled eggs, effectively making a sauce gribiche, which sounded slightly stomach-turning to me, a person who does enjoy the occasional hard-boiled egg. What I ultimately landed on, then, was a sauce that resembles the one in this recipe for hanger steak and charred scallion sauce…