As a member of the allium family (along with garlic, chives, scallions, shallots, and onions), leeks are an incredibly versatile vegetable that add a sweet and mild onion flavour to any recipe — be it soups, stews, casseroles, pastas, or as a grilled and roasted side dish. Whatever suits your fancy, there’s bound to be a recipe that utilizes this versatile veggie.

Preparing Leeks

Depending on how you cook leeks, the preparation of them will vary. Gentle and slow cooking of the leeks will extract the sweet flavours and make them tender. One thing to note is that they’re often dirty on the inside — make sure you clean them thoroughly before using them, no matter how you prepare them!

Depending on your ingenuity, every part of the leek can be eaten. If you don’t have time to prepare and use the leaves and roots right away, save them in a container in your freezer and use them later.

Now that you know the basics of preparing leeks, lets get to the fun part — using them in recipes!

Recipes

Buttery Leek Side Dish

Leeks are delicious when used as a component in larger recipes, but they also serve as a great side dish. Depending on your flavour preferences you can add a variety of spices and herbs, but here’s a standard recipe you can experiment with:

Ingredients

2 large leeks — slice in half lengthways and cut into chunks2 tbsp of unsalted butter1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Wash the leeks and slice them in half lengthways, discarding the roots and any brown sections — if desired, the roots can be used to make noodles or zested and added to a salad. Chop up each half into bite-sized piecesPut the leeks in a large bowl and add cold water. Swish the bowl around to remove any residual dirt and grit. Let the leeks sit for a few minutes, and then lift them out of the water and allow any excess to drip off.In a large frying pan or skillet, melt 1tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks to the pan, sprinkle with salt, and stir to combineCover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low for 30-40 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or until the leeks are very tenderRemove the pan from the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir the leeks until the butter is melted.Serve hot or cold, or freeze until use at a later time.

Cauliflower & Leek Soup

Soup is the ultimate comfort food in cold weather, and this one is very satisfying. It’s versatile too – play away!

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil2 leeks — cleaned and thinly sliced5 cloves garlic — minced1 russet potato — peeled and chopped1 large head of cauliflower — cut into florets1/4 tsp Kosher salt1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper4-6 cups chicken or vegetable brothChopped chives (optional)Crumbled bacon (optional)

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until they’re golden, usually between 4-6 minutes. Add garlic to the pot and cook until fragrantAdd the potato and cauliflower to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer covered until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender, usually after 20 minutes.Remove the pot from the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until its smooth. Alternatively, wait until the soup has cooled slightly and pour it into a blender. If using the latter method, gradually add the mixture to a blender to avoid overwhelming the blender with the whole pot all at once.Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Add chives and bacon if desired.

Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks & Thyme

There’s something about the combination of leeks and potatoes isn’t there? Soup isn’t the only option (although it’s a good one). These scalloped potatoes with leeks just might make it into your regular rotation.

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter1 cup leeks — finely chopped2 cloves of garlic — grated or minced1 tsp dried thyme1 cup whole milk1 cup heavy cream2 tsp kosher salt1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper2 1/2 lbs yellow or golden potatoes — peeled and sliced thinly

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with butter to prevent the potatoes sticking to the panHeat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter to the saucepan, and once the butter has melted add leeks. Stir the saucepan for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes, add garlic and thyme and continue to stir for 30 secondsStir in milk, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Bring the saucepan to a boil, and once boiling reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir the saucepan occasionally until the mixture has thickened, usually after 5 minutes.Add the potatoes to the saucepan to coat them in the mixture. Once coated, transfer the potatoes to the 8×8 dish and spread them evenly.Cook the potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the potatoes are lightly brown and bubbly. Let cool before serving.

Potato & Leek Soup

We couldn’t have a blog post about leeks without including this classic!

Ingredients

3 tbsp unsalted butter4 large leeks, white and light-green parts only (no leaves), roughly chopped3 cloves garlic — minced2 lbs Yukon Gold (or similar) potatoes — peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces7 cups chicken or vegetable broth2 bay leaves3 sprigs of fresh thyme1tsp salt1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper1 cup heavy creamChives (optional) —finely chopped

Instructions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic. Stir regularly until the leeks are soft and the garlic is fragrant, and adjust the heat as needed to ensure they don’t brownAdd potatoes, broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to bring it to a simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are softRemove the thyme sprig and bay leaves, and puree the soup using an immersion blender or a standard blender. If using a standard blender, blend it in small batches to avoid overwhelming the machine, and leave the hole in the top off to allow steam to escapeOnce blended, transfer the soup to a clean pot. Add the heavy cream. Add salt and pepper according to taste preferences. If the soup is too thin, simmer it until it gains a thicker consistency; if it’s too thick, add water or broth.Made too much and can’t finish it in one sitting? no worries — the soup can be frozen (without the cream) for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply defrost it in the fridge for 12 hours and reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat and add the cream once hot.

Leek Root Stir Fry

I’ll be honest, I haven’t given much consideration to using leek roots in recipes. Out of curiosity I googled recipes that can utilize the roots, and using them as a noodle substitute enticed me. To put this alluring-allium recipe to the test, I recruited one of my colleagues to use the roots in a stir fry.

Ingredients:

Roots from 4-5 leeks2 carrots — chopped into matchsticks2 outer leaves of cabbage — chopped into fine slices1 large broccoli — cut into florets2 tbsp soy sauce1 fresh chili1/2 tsp brown sugar1 red or orange bell pepper — diced2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil1/2 tsp ginger (optional) — gratedA pinch of salt

Instructions

Cut off the roots at the base of the leek. Place them in a bowl and add cold water. Swish them around in the bowl and wash them thoroughly to remove excess dirt and grit. Place the olive oil, chopped up chili, sugar, grated ginger, soy sauce, and leek roots in a wok or skillet over low heat and stir regularly. Add the carrots and broccoli and cook allow it to cook for a few minutes, and then add the cabbage and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir regularly. If desired, you can add sources of protein (chicken, tofu, beef, etc.), or simply have it as a vegetable side dish. Add any spices or sauce that you like (i.e., I’m a fan of teriyaki) in the last few minutes of cooking. Once done, serve it on a bed of rice or noodles, or leave it as a vegetable side dish.

Resources for Recipes

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a21960741/cauliflower-leek-soup/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/buttered-leeks-recipe-spring-leeks-4126572

https://shewearsmanyhats.com/wp-json/mv-create/v1/creations/12/print

https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/potato-leek-soup.html?recipe_print=yes

https://ecocucinaen.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/leek-root-noodles/

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