Looking like enormous scallions, leeks are cousins to onions and garlic. The flavor and aroma is evocative of, but much milder than, onions.
Leeks are served raw, braised, fried and sautéed, alone or as part of a more complex recipe. Typically, recipes call for only the white base and very light green portion of the stalk, although the green tops can be used for other purposes.
The only challenge with leeks is the sandy soil in which they grow. The sand gets in between the concentric leaves, and takes time to wash away.
But that’s no reason to avoid luscious leeks. The video below shows you how easy it is to clean them. Then:
SAUTÉ. Leeks can be grilled, sautéed or slow braised for a delicious first course or side dish, especially with fish and seafood. Try sautéed leeks and apples.
GRATIN. Top with a gratin for a fancier dish: a sauce made with grated cheese and browned under the broiler (recipe).
RAW. Serve leeks raw in a salad or on a sandwich instead of the more pungent onions.
SOUP. Add leeks to soups and stews. There are hot and cold potato and leek soups (like Vichyssoise) and Scottish cock-a-leekie, a chicken-leek soup.
FISH. Stuff for fish fillets (sauté for 20 minutes or until soft, without browning; season with salt and pepper).
GARNISH. One of our favorite garnishes is crispy-fried julienned leeks: recipe.
Find some favorite vegetable recipes in our Gourmet Vegetables Section.
FOOD TRIVIA: The leek has been the national symbol of Wales since the sixth century. Welsh warriors wore them on their helmets to identify themselves from their enemies on the field of battle.