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Marinated Grilled Baby Leeks

Anise-scented chervil contributes its unique herbaceousness to this dish of smoke-tinged baby leeks. The sweet young alliums are accented by nutty sherry vinegar, pungent Dijon mustard and peppery olive oil, a mixture that doubles as both marinade and sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 16 baby leeks, rinsed well
  • 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. minced chives
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup peppery extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Trim the root ends from the leeks, leaving just enough attached to keep the leeks from falling apart.

In a rectangular glass baking dish, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, 1 Tbs. of the chives and the minced chervil. Whisk together until well blended. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk to blend. Place the leeks in the dish and toss to coat them well. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate the leeks at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for up to overnight.

About 15 minutes before you plan to serve the leeks, prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.

Remove the leeks from the marinade, shaking off any excess, and reserve the marinade. Arrange the leeks on the grill rack and cook until tender and nicely browned, 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally to cook them evenly.

Transfer the leeks to a warmed platter and drizzle lightly with some of the remaining marinade. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and the chervil leaves. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).