On a rainy, dull weekend in Dorset a few weeks back I was car-less and confined to the village of Charmouth. After I foraged a bag of flowering wild garlic leaves and harvested some chives with lovely purple buds, I had a brainwave and came up with this dish. My grandmother used to boil onions in her pressure cooker on cold winter nights and serve them with a good knob of butter and white pepper – so here's the 2012 version, in her memory.
2 long banana shallots or 4 large shallots, halved
2 medium leeks, trimmed and wrapped in foil
2 red onions, left intact with the skin on
A handful of wild garlic leaves
16 or so lengths of chives, preferably with their buds
For the dressing
1tbsp cider vinegar
3tbsp rapeseed oil plus a little extra
1tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Place the leeks, red onion and shallots (cut side down) on an oven tray; bake for 45 minutes, removing the shallots after 20 minutes. Leave to cool; remove the skin from the red onions, quarter them and pull apart the natural layers. Remove the foil from the leeks and cut into 1cm-thick slices on the angle.
Cut the chive buds to about 5cm and finely chop the rest. Whisk the vinegar, rapeseed oil and mustard together, season and add the chopped chives.
Heat about half a tablespoon of rapeseed oil in a pan, add the wild garlic leaves and chive buds and stir on a low heat until the wild garlic leaves just wilt a little.
Arrange the shallots, red onions and leeks on serving plates, scatter the wild garlic and chive buds on top and spoon over the dressing.