Leeks are a great addition to almost any kind of savory preparation, from fish, vegetables, and vinaigrettes to soups, stocks, and stuffings. Many countries have been using leeks regularly for centuries, but here in the United States, they are often passed over for a more standard member of their onion family. Leeks’ reliable flavor, durability, and availability (different types can be planted depending on the season according to desired harvest time), are great reasons to integrate them into your repertoire. There are varieties on the shelves almost year-round, and they offer similar vitamin and nutrient benefits as the rest of the onion family. Though they might be slightly more costly and less powerful than their mighty yellow onion counterparts, they last a few weeks in the fridge and give subtle aromatic warmth—and pretty color—to a dish.
Here are some of our favorite ways to use leeks:
And don’t forget, they can be braised as a stand-alone side, blanched and chopped into a salad dressing, or simply sautéed as a topping for meat or a dip, as in Artichoke Dip.
They also taste delicious with eggs and excellent fried, so try a morning omelet or bread them with potatoes for fritters!
Just make sure that you properly clean and trim them—their leaf structure makes it very easy for grit to get trapped between layers, so typically you will need to rinse off surface dirt, trim, and then rinse thoroughly again. The white base and some of the lighter green parts are eaten, while the dark green tops and roots are trimmed. The edible parts can be halved or cut down before cutting into the shape desired for your recipe.
Any green trimmings can be reserved to make components of a stock, such as part of a white mirepoix (a common base for a mild vegetable or fish stock) or tied with twine to bundle a fancy, pretty “bouquet garni” full of herbs. This way, even if you are not directly eating the whole vegetable, you are not wasting it either!