Skip to main content

Leeks and Fennel in Anise Vinaigrette


The classic French ‘poireaux vinaigrettes’ have always appealed to me as a first course. The poached leeks marinated in a tangy dressing are elegant and appetite-whetting at the start of a meal. But, it occurred to me that the recipe could take on a different personality if fennel bulbs were combined with the leeks. I also added anise seed and tarragon to the dressing to reinforce the liquorice delicacy of the fennel.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4 ServingsServings


  • 4 medium-size leeks, trimmed and well-rinsed
  • 1 large fennel bulb, rinsed, stems removed
  • 8 cups (2 litres) water
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) tarragon vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil


1. Cut leeks down so as to leave only an inch of green. Slice about ½cm/¼-inch from the bottom of the fennel bulb. Slice vertically in 4 sections, each about 2.5cm/1 inch-thick.

2. Select a non-reactive pan large enough to hold leeks and fennel in a single layer, add water, half the vinegar and a generous pinch of salt. Add leeks and fennel, bring to a simmer, cover and poach gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove leeks and fennel from pan, draining well, and set on several layers of paper towel for 10 minutes, turning them once, to fully drain.

3. Using a small food processor, a spice grinder or mortar, grind the garlic, tarragon leaves and anise seed together. Mix with remaining vinegar. Beat in olive oil. Season with salt.

4. Arrange leeks and fennel in a serving dish. Beat dressing again and pour over vegetables. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

5. Serve as a first course or as part of an hors d’oeuvre or salad buffet. The leeks and fennel are also lovely to serve alongside cold chicken or fish. The dish is perfectly parve. Sauvignon blanc is the wine of choice.

Recipe Courtesy of Florence Fabricant