Leeks look like a giant green onion and are part of the alliums family, along with chives, garlic, onions, and shallots. When raw, the flavour is quite sharp, however, when cooked, they mellow and become slightly sweet. Leeks bring a lovely flavour to soups, stir fries, salads, and a multitude of other dishes. You can really use them anywhere you would use onions, only they will offer a milder flavour.
How to Pick Leeks:
Choose leeks that have nice bright leaves and a blemish-free white portion. Avoid ones that are withered or have yellow spots on the leaves. Also, smaller ones are much more tender than larger ones.
How to Store Leeks:
Store in a plastic bag and they will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.
How to Prepare Leeks:
The leek will gradate in colour from white to dark green. Typically, the white to light green is the most tender part and is also the part that most recipes call for. The dark green ends are used to flavour soups and stocks. The white part grows underground, which is why there is usually soil trapped between the leaves. It’s important to wash them well. If you’re using sliced leeks in a recipe, slice them first then place them in a colander and rinse well under cold water. If you’re keeping them whole, Simply Recipes has great instructions on how to clean them.
Leeks can be left whole, halved, or sliced and boiled, braised, fried, grilled, roasted, or steamed.
If you are cooking leeks whole, the best cooking methods are either braising or steaming.
1 pound = 2 cups chopped or 1 cup cooked
Kary’s Leek Tips:
- Here’s a neat trick! If you plant a leek bulb in a pot and keep it moist and in the sun, it will produce green leek shoots that can be snipped and used just as you would chives.
- The tougher green ends can be used to flavour soups. Just wash well and place in a cheesecloth bag.
- Simmer sliced leeks in vegetable, chicken, or beef broth to add extra flavour.
- Sauté leeks and add them to a quiche, omelet, or frittata.
What Do Leeks Go Well With?
Leeks go well with: butter, bacon, carrot, chicken, thyme, white wine, red wine, cheese (Gruyère, Parmesan, and goat), chives, cream, eggs, fish, potatoes, garlic, and mustard.