Until a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to identify a leek at the store. Even now, as much as I like them, I still forget about them more often than not. The leek is a frequently unappreciated part of the onion and garlic family. It has a subtle, slightly sweet flavor that I really enjoy. I’ve been using leeks in several recipes lately and liking them more each time I use them.
While many people are unsure how or when to use leeks, it isn’t complicated at all. Once you learn how easy it is to clean and use leeks; you might find yourself throwing leeks into a number of dishes when you would have reached for a simple onion in the past.
Leeks are in season now and the ones at my Farmer’s Market have been perfect lately. When possible, you want to look for leeks that have bright green leaves and white mostly unblemished stalks. Size does not matter when it comes to leeks. Small or large, the only difference is the cooking time.
While you can cook and eat the green leaves; I typically discard that part. The leaves are quite woody and I prefer the white portion of the leek. To clean leeks, simply chop off the root end and the green leaves. Discard those portions and then slice the remaining white portion in half lengthwise.
Under running water, rinse the halves of the stalk carefully. Use your fingers to fan out the leaves of the stalk carefully to rinse all the dirt from between them. Drain in a colander or blot dry with a thin towel.
Slice them thinly and then use them as you would onions in almost any recipe. If you are only using a small portion of the leek in a recipe, you can wrap the unused portion in a paper towel and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
Split Pea, Potato, Ham and Leek Soup
Creamy White Bean, Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup
Garlic and Thyme Potato Salad with Leeks
7 Comments Leave a comment or review
Sue/the view from great island says
I love leeks, they seem sweet and buttery to me, especially when they're sauteed for a long time.
Joy Bee says
Great tip. I've seen leeks at my local market but been too intimidated to try them. Maybe now I will.
Thanks for spotlighting leeks. They really are underappreciated. Also something to consider, they can be a sort of onion substitute when cooking for people who strongly dislike onions (such as myself!).
Victor A Shaver says
I Love leeks. However, when making a bone marrow vegistable soup they seem to disentegrate whether in slow cooker or pressure cooker is this normal for leeks?
Leeks do break down more than other onion-type vegetables. I’ve never tried them in a pressure cooker though. I do like them in slow cooker recipes like this one: Split Pea Soup with Ham and Leeks However, that’s a fairly short cooking time for the crock-pot, so perhaps that makes a difference.
Thanks so much for sharing this tips and pictures, Mary. I normally don’t eat leeks but fell in love after eating a potato and leek soup. I have decided to recreate it and had no idea on what to do in prepping it. This comes especially after trying to have a Chicken Kiev with leeks. I expected the finely diced pieces you described only for the server to bring the horrible green leaves chopped in extremely large pieces! They were so horrible and I couldn’t eat them. I heard normally people discard the green bit or use it to infuse stock and discard. Thanks again.
Mary Younkin says
I’m glad it was helpful, Vic.