Meltingly soft leeks on a bed of creamy white beans. Feels like it maybe shouldn’t work, but the textural contrast between the starchy cannellini beans and the gently fibrous leeks really does keep each and every bite interesting. Add to that a soothing fennel broth and a tangy-but-mellow lemon shallot dressing, and you’ve got yourself a really comforting way to brighten up what might be an otherwise dark and gloomy day. Call it leeks vinaigrette on creamy white beans if you like or simply, if like me you’re a fan of concision, beans vinaigrette.
leeks vinaigrette on creamy white beans
This really is two recipes combined into one, so if you’re ever feeling like just having brothy beans or zingy leeks, you’re in luck. Instructions for both are presented separately below, and all that’s left to do at the end (if you so desire) is serve one on top of the other.
creamy white brothy beans
- dried white beans like butter/lima beans, cannelini beans, black-eyed peas or white navy beans
- cool or cold water
- dried and/or fresh aromatics, whole or roughly chopped in halves or quarters like sage, fennel, bay, leek greens, rosemary, garlic, carrot, celery, and/or thyme
- sea salt
- extra virgin olive oil
- Start by soaking your white beans of choice in plenty of cold water for 8-12 hours
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 165°C/330°F
- Drain + rinse the beans, then add them to an oven-proof pot placed on the stove, and top with more fresh cold water by 2.5 to 5cm (1-2in)
- Slowly bring to a gentle simmer, never letting the water come to a full boil
- Simmer softly for 15 minutes, skimming foam off if you like, then pop in whatever aromatics you have and enjoy
- Season with salt and top with a generous-but-thin layer of olive oil
- Cover the pot with a lid and place it in the oven for around 1 hour, or until the beans are tender
- Taste for doneness and seasoning, and enjoy! Alone with an extra glug of olive oil on top, as a base for a soup or stew, or alongside a hot slice of delightfully crisp and golden pan-fried sourdough bread
tip: for a more concentrated broth, simply return the pot of cooked beans to the stop, lid removed, and leave to simmer on medium-low heat until the desired level of liquid has been achieved
serves 4, alone as an appetizer or combined with the brothy beans above for a light meal
- 4 slim leeks (1 leek per serving), only the white and pale green parts reserve the green leafy tops for another dish, or for a stock
- coarse sea salt, for the cooking water
- 1 banana shallot
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar you could use another pale vinegar of your choice
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 pinch sea salt
- ½-to-1 tsp dijon mustard depends on whether you like Dijon mustard or not; if not, the lesser amount won’t be so strong that you’ll taste it, but it will still be enough to bind the vinaigrette ingredients together
- ~6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper
- zest of half a lemon
- Set a large pot of water on high heat.
- While you wait for the water to boil, trim the greens leafy tops off the leeks (you can still keep 2-3 of dark green on each leek) and give them a thorough clean under cold running water. Carefully slice off the roots, making sure to cut off as little as possible so the leeks’ layers don’t come apart while cooking.
- Season the boiling water with salt, then pop the leeks into the pot. Place something on top of the leeks — a strainer or steaming basket, parchment paper cartouche, or a smaller-than-the-pot upturned lid — to keep them submerged as they cook. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to cook until tender for around 8 minutes, or until you can easily pierce through the stem of a leek with a knife.
- While the leeks cook, start preparing the vinaigrette (you may have to briefly interrupt the process if your leeks are done before you have finished making the dressing; no worries, just carry on where you left off). Finely dice a shallot and pop it into a small bowl. Crush and peel a garlic clove, then add it whole to the bowl with the shallot. Top with around 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Leave to mellow a bit while you prepare the leeks.
- Once the leeks are tender, remove them from the pot with tongs and transfer to a colander. Rinse under ice cold water until cool to the touch, to stop the cooking process. Then leave to drain, top-side down, while you finish the dressing.
- To finish the dressing, add ½-teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the vinaigrette bowl. Then add around 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, stirring constantly as you drizzle it into the bowl to emulsify the vinaigrette as you go. Season with a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper.
- Lastly, finish the leeks’ preparation by delicately peeling off the slightly-tougher outermost layer from each leek, then gently slicing each lengthwise, across its middle.
- To serve, place the leeks on a plate, alone or on a bed of beans as suggested above, with their cut side facing up. Generously spoon some of the dressing over the leeks and finish each plate with a light sprinkle of lemon zest. Voilà, c’est tout!
If you’re more of a visual cook like me, you can head on over here to my instagram story highlights to watch me make this lovely dish.