If you can’t conceive a meal, including Christmas dinners, without a salad (however tokenistic it may be), I have you covered. Leeks are not the sexiest vegetable ever and in Switzerland, it is even an expensive luxury. Still, after spotting a great leeks and raisins coleslaw in my favourite vegetarian restaurant, I gave it a try. I swapped the raisins for pomegranate which adds a nice colour and plenty of vitamins – it’s Christmas, after all – and lemon zest.
The dressing is really interesting. White beans make it incredibly smooth and filling. I got that tip a while ago from a French reader and kept it in the back of my mind. I like a cashew-based vegan mayonnaise from time to time, but here something lighter felt right. You may as well replace the beans by 200 grams of cashew nuts (soaked a few hours). Before you make this salad, though, beware! It is potent! Let me explain.
Leek, as their cousins of the genus Allium (garlic, onion, shallot, chives…) are very rich in sulphur compounds, which have excellent and well-known antioxidant properties. This also applies to leeks. Eating a lot of them raw may have side effects, benign, but still. One might feel a bit dizzy and experience some discomfort around the throat after eating raw leeks. In addition, leeks are expectorant. They causes the the mucus that lines the digestive tracks to gather towards the mouth, and you may need to cough a little bit, or even spit – I’m sorry about the explicit content of this post: I have to warn you. But this is the way your body sort of cleans itself, so it is not a bad thing, I suppose.
Marinating the leeks for a while in the dressing helps reduce the activity of the sulphur compounds. It also mellows the flavours. If you absolutely want to avoid any inconvenience, steam the leeks before making the salad.
If you can find a copy of it, here’s an interesting read about garlic, and Allium plants in general.
Leek and pomegranate Xmas salad
- 1 lemon
- 4 big leeks (6 small)
- 1 pomegranate
- Apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 250 g cooked white beans
- 1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Zest the lemon and juice it.
Wash the leeks, slice thinly width-wise. Place in a bowl with the lemon juice, zest and a generous drizzle of apple cider vinegar. Mix well. Refrigerate.
Blend 4 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, the olive oil, white beans and mustard, as well as turmeric and sweetener if using.
Pour the bean mixture over the minced leeks. Combine well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This allows the leeks to soften.
Meanwhile, take the seeds out of the pomegranate. Then fold in the leek salad. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve.