Leeks are related to onions, shallots and scallions, the latter to which they bear a resemblance. Leeks taste sweeter than onions and add subtle touches recipes without overpowering the other flavors. Leeks can also stand alone in quiches, pasta dishes and omelets. Because leeks have an odd shape, they can be difficult to cut, slice or dice. Use these tips to make your next leek recipe a little more manageable.
Since very few recipes demand that leeks be used as they are, first trim the root ends of the leeks, keeping the leaves attached. Next, remove the tops so that the leeks are about six inches long.
If you try to take a shortcut, you might end up with a cruelly misshapen leek (or an ugly wound on your hand). Starting about one-half inch from the root and keeping leaves attached, split each leek lengthwise in half and then in quarters.
Leeks tend to trap more sand and dirt than other vegetables. Give them a rinse before you start the cutting process and once you have your quartered pieces, swirl them around in a bowl of warm water before placing them in a colander and rinsing with cool water.
Even if your recipe doesn't call for the long, wide, green leaves, they saute well and can be added to most soups, stews, quiches or omelets for extra flavor. Be sure to cook them thoroughly to release natural sweetness – but not too long; if you overcook them you'll have a mushy, green mess on your hands. To julienne, leeks cut them crosswise into approximately 2-inch pieces, press leaves flat, and slice lengthwise into matchstick-sized pieces.
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