In season: February

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It’s getting warmer – hooray ! But it’s not quite summer yet, and there’s a little bit longer to wait until all of those delicious berries arrive on the market stalls of Paris. There’s still plenty of tasty stuff to fill our faces with though, here’s a list of seasonal fruit and veg currently available.

Blood orange – orange sanguine
Broccoli – brocoli
Brussels sprouts – chou de Bruxelles
Cabbage – chou
Carrot – carotte
Cauliflower – chou-fleur
Celeriac – céleri rave
Celery – céleri
Chicory – endive
Jerusalem artichoke – topinambour
Kale – so difficult to find in France, it doesn’t have a translation. But check out http://thekaleproject.wordpress.com/ to find out where you can buy it
Leeks – poireau
Parsnip – panais
Potatoes – pomme de terre
Pumpkin – citrouille/potiron
Swede – rutabaga

Stews, soups and roasted winter veg are still definitely on the menu as the great thaw begins (mind you, it’s not like we actually froze at all this winter…). Here’s a recipe for a proper French classic though, that doesn’t require hours and hours of cooking, and is a perfect starter if you’re having some friends over for a dinner party.

Leeks vinaigrette

Choose 1 or 2 leeks per dinner guest and try to select straight ones of a similar size. Bring the largest pan you have, half-full of salted water, to the boil and get on with cleaning the leeks. Remove the tough outer layer and thoroughly wash. Cut off most of the green top, leaving an inch or two above the white. Where the green colour finishes, cut from here to the end of the leaf end and fan out the leaves under a running tap to get rid of any trapped grit and dirt. Cut off the root as close to the end as you can, to keep the leek whole.

Cook for around 8 to ten minutes, until you can pierce easily with a knife. Drain the leeks (some chefs place them in an ice bath for ten minutes or so first, but it’s up to you if you can go that extra mile), the best way is to prop them up root towards the sky so all of the liquid can easily drain out of them. Now make the vinaigrette. Take 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper, and mix together (a used cornichon jar or suchlike always works well). This makes enough for about 6 leeks – adjust the quantities if you’re making more.

Place the leeks in a shallow cooking dish, or even a flat Tupperware container, and drizzle the vinaigrette over them. Rotate the leeks so everything is nicely covered and marinate for anywhere between an hour or a few days (make sure they’re in the fridge if you’re going for the longer option though). The longer they marinate for, the more delicious they’ll become. Serve on a plate with the remaining vinaigrette drizzled over and some chopped parsley if you’re feeling fancy.

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