Leeks are such an underappreciated, but useful vegetable. Part of the mystery is that most people don’t know how to clean leeks or how to use them once they make it that far. The sort answer is use leeks in anything you would use onions, so everything! But if you need more detailed information than that, read on for step by step instructions of how to clean and prepare these useful alliums.
The first time I ever touched a leek was in trying to make Julia Child’s classic potato leek soup. To be honest I wasn’t a stellar cook at this point and tackling a French recipe by one of the greatest chef’s of all time probably wasn’t a great idea. None the less the soup turned out pretty okay.
The best part about buying leeks is that you get to teach every new cashier what they are. I proudly tell them, this is a leek! It’s like a giant green onion! I don’t mention that it wasn’t until my twenties that I knew green onions and scallions were the same thing. If that tells me one thing, it is that we are all sorely lacking in our vegetable knowledge and therefore probably missing out on so many delicious foods we could be eating.
Leeks are like onions but are on the milder end of the spectrum. They are used in most recipes in place of white or yellow onions. I would not use them in place of red onions as those are usually raw in recipes. In general leeks will not make your eyes tear up and don’t have as potent of smell. They are great for people that are not big on onions in general, but don’t want to miss out on the flavor that onions give to a dish.
As Shrek explained, onions have layers and leeks are no different! Often times dirt and sand gets in between those layers and needs to be rinsed out before the leeks are used in a recipe. It’s easy to do and only requires a sharp knife and a bowl of water.
Step 1: Trim off the roots on the tip of the leek and the dark leafy part. You can either throw those pieces away or use them in homemade chicken stock recipe!
Step 2: Slice the leek in half, length wise down the middle. Once cut place it into a bowl of cool water. You’ll want the bowl to be big enough to cover all the leeks.
Step 3: While in the bowl of water, peel all the leek layers apart and gently swish them in the water.
Step 4: At this point the dirt/sand should be settling at the bottom of the bowl. Some pieces may need to be rubbed gently to remove excess dirt. When they are free of grit remove them from the water to a cutting board.
Step 5: Chop the leeks into thin slices and use in the recipe as directed, like my Chilled Zucchini Curry Soup. If you do not need to use all the chopped leeks at once place them in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Now go forth and try out your new skills and impress your family and the cashier at your local grocery store with your vegetable knowledge!
Are there other things in the produce section that make you scratch your head or you don’t know how to prepare? Let me know and I would be happy to create a post to teach everyone how to do it!