Spring has sprung at last! This calls for a celebration. Whilst there are still leeks about, I shall be knocking up one of my all time favourite vegetable dishes. I adore this old recipe of Elizabeth David’s for its versatility and over the years have made it my own, adding this and that. A dish which is as at home with roast chicken or a deliciously chunky pork chop as it is on its own, served with crusty bread and a torn ball of buffalo mozzarella. Jerry and I particularly like it served with a slice of quiche Lorraine and a crisp glass of white.
Provençal leeks (serves 4)
3 medium-sized leeks, trimmed, washed and cut into 2cm lengths
3 large vine tomatoes or a punnet of cherry tomatoes
A handful of black or green olives (whichever take your fancy – black is more classically French)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
a clove of garlic
1 tsp Herbes de Provence or add fresh savoury, thyme, lemon thyme or marjoram
a good splash of white wine
a good glug of olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade, 400F or Gas mark 6.
Place the trimmed, washed and chopped leeks into an earthenware dish. Crush the garlic and add to the dish.
If using large tomatoes, cut into sixths or leave whole in the case of cherry tomatoes. Mix into the leeks and garlic, then scatter over the olives.
Grate the zest of the lemon and add the juice to the dish. Mix the zest and juice through the vegetables thoroughly.
Sprinkle in the herbs, add the splash of white wine before seasoning with salt and pepper. Finally drizzle over the olive oil and place in the oven. Baked for 20 minutes in a hot oven should suffice.
This will take you skipping through spring and into summer. Elizabeth David suggests that it can be served cold too but I have always found that cold leeks are best reserved for Vichyssoise soup.