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How to cook with leeks

Maris Callahan is the author of "In Good Taste," and, as an avid self-taught home cook, is widely knowledgeable about all things culinary. She is especially passionate about helping women on-the-go cook healthy, delicious meals and snack...

Cutting an unwieldy leek

Here are 4 things you should know about how to cook with leeks. If you’ve ever seen leeks in the grocery store or farmer’s market and wondered what the heck you were looking at, you’re not alone.

Sliced leeks

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.

 

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1. Trim the root ends of the leeks

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.

 

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2. Split the leeks in half

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.

 

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3. Wash your leeks well

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.

 

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4. use the green part of the leek

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.

 

More leek recipes

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