N: I sometimes feel a bit sorry for leek because it suffers the same fate as a background singer. Leek adds to the flavour of many a dish but hardly gets a chance to stand out on its own. In this dish, however, the leek in the centre piece. So if you get some good fresh organic leek this is a great way to pay homage to it. It is also a good pasta to eat when you get bored of all the tomato or the cheese based sauces. Without the pasta you can also eat the veggie and bean combination as a salad.
If you want to follow the entire recipe then you will also need some flageolet beans. I buy packets of dried flageolet beans and cook them as necessary. I believe you can also get them in tins. They are essentially very young haricot beans, green in colour and have a very creamy texture when cooked. If you have never tried it buy one packet and give it a go. The French love it and I am now rather partial to it.
– Start by cooking the soaked flageolet beans with enough water to cover the beans. Do not use too much water as boiling water that is not necessary is a waste of energy. The beans should take about 30 mins. I have never used pressure cooker to cook flageolet beans for I fear it will lose its shape. But if you try, do let me know.
– Chop a large carrot into 2 mm x 1 cm x 5 cm planks. It does not have to be perfect but you get the idea. The carrot pieces need to mimic the leek shape and size.
– Next chop 2 leeks into 5 cm long cylinders. Cut each cylinder along the diameter. You will get a whole lot of small plain sheets of leek. Put them in a colander and ruffle them up to separate the pieces. Wash them well under the tap.
– Chop a few pieces of garlic.
– Prepare the sauce before starting to cook. This will allow the ingredients to mix well. Mix together 1 tbsp of French mustard, 1 tbsp of English mustard, 1 tbsp of cyder vinegar and 1 tbsp of olive oil and mix well. I find the combination of English and French mustard to my taste but you can also make the sauce using only French or English mustard. Check the pungency of the sauce. Add some mustard to spice it up or some cyder vinegar to tone it down.
– Fry the carrots with garlic and 1 tsp of ground black peppercorn and some salt in low heat for about 10 mins.
– As the carrots start to soften add the leeks and mix it up a bit. The beans should be done by now. Drain the beans and add them to the mixture. This should take about 10 mins.
– Meanwhile cook about 140 gms of spaghetti in boiling water for about 10 mins.
– Check the leeks from time to time to make sure that they are cooked enough but do not get soggy. The carrots should now be well cooked and sweet.
– Drain the pasta and add the vegetables to it. Add about 1 tsp of dill and 1 tsp of ground black peppercorn and toss it around. I use dried dill as I do not have dill in my herb garden.
– Now turn down the heat and add the sauce. Toss, toss and toss again until your hands start to ache. Add salt if necessary.
– Plate it and serve.
A: This dish goes well as it is, but it works well as an accompaniment to a piece of baked salmon fillet too. For the salmon, preheat the oven to 180°C. For two, use two pieces of salmon fillet with the skin on. Salmon dries very easily while baking, so you need the skin to prevent the fish from going dry.
Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a oven-proof dish. Sprinkle some olive oil, a pinch of salt and about a tbsp of dill on top of the fish. Cover the dish and bake for 20 minutes when the oven has reached 180°C. The fish skin underneath and the cover on the dish helps to retain the moisture in the fish and ensures that it remains succulent.