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Steamed Leeks with Citrus Soy Vinaigrette

Steamed Leeks with Citrus Soy Vinaigrette

Steamed Leeks with Citrus Soy Vinaigrette

So you call yourself a foodie? You love food, cooking, discovering new tastes and eating. You should label yourself a foodie; what a privilege to have “an ardent or refined interest in food.” Do you also get excited about food when you travel?  Thinking about the cultural gastronomic aspects of the places you visit? One of the best ways to spot new foods is to head over to the local farm markets in new towns. France is an ideal country to explore food traditions via the link between the marché (market) or through eating at small family run restaurants.

Several years ago good friends of mine, Meg and Aaron, came to visit. They are both foodies, love cooking, eating and exploring new culinary dishes. One of their favorite activities while visiting was spending a couple of hours perusing locally produced foods at the town market. One day they promised to bring back lunch and they returned with some interesting finds. One treasure was in a small container.

I remember the container, white color, nothing interesting. I opened it and in a tiny neat package were cold boiled leeks bathed in vinaigrette. The white part of the leek was cut off from the green, the leeks were cooked in boiling water until soft. My friends followed the advice from the market: serve these leeks at room temperature or cold as an accompaniment to meat or fish. The surprise was the simple taste of these leeks and the easy way they were prepared. Something I thought so mundane to eat was actually everything but that!  On that warm March day in Pau, we ate the most amazing lunch all bought from the market. These leeks were the biggest surprise of all. Soft, flavorful and simple they were a healthy and light contrast to the meat we had with it.

In France, leeks are considered “poor man’s asparagus.”  The word in French for leek: poireau is a derogatory word for simpleton. Now, in some countries, leeks are considered gourmet food. Where we live we can buy leeks year round.  They are a versatile, inexpensive and healthy vegetable in the onion family. Leeks help blood pressure to stay low and keep blood vessels clean and functioning well. Leeks contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins C, K, B6 and minerals manganese and iron. Slip them in soups, on pizza, with fish dishes and in Quiche. With the weather getting warmer in Spring,  you will find this dish a mouth surprising pleasure.

You will need to cut off the green tops and use just the bottom of the leeks. Keep the green leaves and use them in soups or stock. Here is a link for a recipe I make called soupe de bonne femme where you can use your green leek leaves. In this leek and vinaigrette recipe I chose to steam the leeks instead of boiling them, a healthier way of cooking because it keeps more nutrients intact.

Bon Appetit!

Steamed Leeks With Citrus Lemon Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Soy
Meal type Appetizer, Side Dish
Misc Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region French
Steamed leeks with vinaigrette is a versatile side dish for meat or fish or as an appetizer/first course.


  • 2 lb Leeks
  • 1 tablespoon Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • pinch Freshly Chopped Chives or Parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • Freshly Ground Pepper


The citrus soy vinaigrette is an essential part to the dish unless the leeks are served as an accompaniment to meat or fish with a rich sauce. In that case dribble a small amount of olive oil on the leeks.  Fresh herbs add color and presentation especially if served as a first course. Each diner should have a serrated or sharp knife to cut the leeks on the plate to avoid the vegetable falling apart.


Step 1
Prepare the leeks to be steamed.
Step 2
Cut off the very green end of leek leaves.
Step 3
Wash white and light green part of leek throughly. Wash and keep the green leaves for soup or stock.
Step 4
Steam leeks until completely cooked and soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Step 5
While leeks are cooking, prepare vinaigrette. Mix fresh lemon juice with olive oil until well emulsified.
Step 6
Add soy sauce and pepper to vinaigrette and mix thoroughly.
Step 7
When leeks are finished steaming, drain them and put them together in a serving dish, side to side.
Step 8
Serve at room temperature or cold with vinaigrette and sprinkled with either chives or parsley.
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8 Responses to Steamed Leeks with Citrus Soy Vinaigrette

  1. Dr Barb, Nutrition Budgeteer April 23, 2012 at 20:33 #

    Your friends sound like mine. Love to spend hours poking through farmer’s markets, ethnic supermarkets and grocery stores, especially in other parts of the world. Love the simplicity of your recipe.

    • mbrighton April 24, 2012 at 00:39 #

      Thanks Dr. Barb! The pleasure of simplicity. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Danielle Omar - Food Confidence RD April 23, 2012 at 02:10 #

    I’m so spoiled…my Trader Joe’s sells cleaned and cut and ready to cook leeks…I never have to worry about cleaning them! Love this simple and elegant recipe!

    • mbrighton April 24, 2012 at 00:40 #

      Thanks Danielle for your support. I wish we had a Trader Joe around, I know it is a great place. Best to you.

  3. mbrighton April 22, 2012 at 18:12 #

    Hi Ea! I only took off one outer layer of the 4 leeks I used because it looked dirty. I find that most of the dirt comes from the upper green leaves, but yes, you have to be careful to get all the dirt out-especially if the leeks are not organic. Yes, your pictures…wow! how do you take them so beautifully? Whoever took them (i guess you?) really has a lot of talent. It adds so much to the feel of your blog and makes us want to devour this soup!! Thanks for your comment too.

  4. ea-the spicy rd April 22, 2012 at 18:02 #

    This sounds lovely, and so easy to make! I’m curious-Do you remove the outer layer of the white part of the leeks before steaming? I have found they have the most about of dirt and grit…Looking forward to trying this! Thanks so much for your comment on my post-gave me a good laugh 🙂

  5. Emma Stirling April 22, 2012 at 06:34 #

    So simple Mary. But as you write often simply the best! I’m definitely trying this.

    • mbrighton April 22, 2012 at 16:30 #

      Thanks Emma for your comment! Wish I was there in your country having some of the delicious rhubarb bread you designed. Very hard to find rhubarb here! With 4 kids to feed, simple is my middle name :), haha.

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