A member of the allium family, leeks count onions, shallots and garlic among their cousins, though they look like giant scallions. Leeks are perhaps the least popular among the bunch, which is quite a shame — their subtle, and slightly sweet flavor is nothing short of delectable. The downside? Well, leeks are a bit of a pain to clean, and are usually more expensive than their more popular cousins. Click through for some great recipe ideas, and see below for some basic info on leeks.
In Season: Year-round, though their peek time is between late fall and spring.
How to Buy: The best leeks have fresh, green tops (but not too dark) — any yellowing or wilted tops are a no go. The stalks should be straight, firm, and relatively small. The smaller the leek, the more tender it will be.
How to Store: Depending on how fresh the leeks are, they will last for anywhere between 5 and 10 days. Store in the fridge, wrapped loosely in plastic.
How to Clean: Leeks are dirty, really, really dirty. Think you’ve got it clean? Surprise, there’s more dirt lurking in there! The best way to clean leeks is as follows:
1.. Cut the dark green parts off of the leeks, from about 1 inch after the white starts giving way to light green.
2. Cut root off as closely as possible.
3. Cut the white and light green parts in half lengthwise.
4. Add the leeks to a bowl of cold water and swish around a few times.
5. Lift, don’t pour, leeks out of bowl and into colander to rinse off any remaining grime.
A perfect appetizer for your next dinner party, or just a fancy night in!
1. Leek and Blue Cheese Toasts
- 3 Large leeks, white and pale green parts, cleaned and sliced 1/4″ thick
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing toasts
- Coarse Salt and freshly-ground pepper
- 6 1/2 slices baguette
- 2 Ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1. Turn oven to a broil.
2. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, place oil and butter. When the butter is melted and sizzling, stir in leeks. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down the low and cover. Simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
3. Meanwhile, with a pastry brush, brush oil onto bread slices. Sprinkle some salt on the slices. Broil in oven until slices are light toasted. Divide blue cheese among toasts evenly, and then divide leeks evenly on top of the slightly melted cheese. Let cool for a minute or two before serving.
Recipe Credit: Smitten Kitchen.
A fabulous option for a springtime brunch.
5. Crepes with Leeks and Eggs
- 1/2 Cup milk
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Teaspoons olive oil
- 1/3 Cup flour
- Coarse salt
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Medium leek, clean and sliced crosswise
- 1 Clove garlic, minced
- Freshly-ground pepper
- 1/2 Cup gruyere
1. In a blender or food processor, blend milk, 1 egg, olive oil, flour and a pinch of salt. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in leeks and let cook until the leeks have wilted, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Set the oven rack on the highest level. Preheat broiler. Heat up a cast iron skillet (9-12 inches) over medium-high heat. Add remaining butter. Pour about 1/3 cup of the crepe batter and tilt the skillet so it spreads out thinly and evenly. Let it cook for around 3 minutes, until bubbly and dry. Carefully release the edges of the crepe with a small spatula. Carefully flip the crepe over using your fingers.
4. Add half of the leeks and half of the grated cheese over the crepe, but take care to leave space in the middle for the egg. Crack egg into the uncovered spot and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
5. Move the skillet to the broiler. Let crepe broil until the yolk is runny and the whites are cooked, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and fold crepe in half. Repeat steps with remaining ingredients.
Recipe Credit: Serious Eats
Leeks are not commonly thought of as a raw vegetable, but as a cousin of onion, it certainly should be!
9. Mediterranean Leek Salad
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
- 3 Large leeks, white and pale green parts, cleaned and sliced thinly crosswise
- 2 Ripe tomatoes, cored, cut in half horizontally, seeds removed, and chopped
- 1 Cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
- 1/4 Cup kalamata olives (optional)
- 1/2 Cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. In a medium bowl, whisk lemon and olive oil, along with salt and pepper to taste. Add leeks and toss to coat. Add tomato, cucumbers and optional olives and toss. Transfer to serving plates and garnish with parsley.
Recipe Credit: Mark Bittman,