Leeks should never be the unsung hero of the dish. Once merely a replacement for the onion, this delicately flavoured vegetable has a sweet and unique flavour that creates the perfect contrast to it’s savoury counterparts in so many incredible recipes.
Fry it off lightly with a knob of salted butter, add it generously to a hearty soup or use it in a stuffing, whichever way you choose, cooking with leeks is the perfect go to when you want to enhance recipe flavours.
Here’s our seasonal guide to cooking with leeks. You’ll learn how to store, pick and prepare this sensational veg:
- Member of the onion family, also related to garlic, chives and shallots
- These vegetables are referred to as the allium group of vegetables
- Must be thoroughly cleaned, as the multiple layers of the leek harvest dirt
- Availability: April – August
- The sweet subtle flavour of the leek is perfect in French food
- Keep in the crisper section of your fridge
- Only trim the stem and leaves of the leek when you are ready to cook with it, doing this prematurely will cause your leek to wilt quickly
How to pick a leek
Look for a leek that is firm to touch and has bright and solid green leaves. You want to choose a vegetable with a strong white base that doesn’t have any large markings.
Can you use the green part of leeks?
Yes you can definitely eat the green part of the leek. In fact, this is the part of the leek which is the most nutritionally compound. It contains various nutrients from the carotenoid family such as beta carotene which supports our vision, immune system and improves the health of our skin.
TIP: Cooking with leeks is particularly delicious in stock. If you have excess, in particular the green part of the leek – pop into a freezer safe bag for stock or other cooking purposes.
How to clean a leek
- Cut an incision down the vertical centre of the leek, being sure to not cut all the way through. This should expose the inner layers of the vegetable
- Cut away the roots of the leek
- Run cold water down the incision of the leek, using your fingers to clean out any dirt or residue
- Then slice the leek horizontally into 1cm pieces or slice according to recipe instructions
- If you feel there may still be some residue inside the vegetable, place the chopped pieces into a bowl of cold water, then strain
- Great source of dietary fibre
- Source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A
- Rich in antioxidants
- A chemical reaction occurs when the leek is cut, crushed, chopped etc, which converts the antioxidants to allicin, a chemical compound with antibacterial, anti fungal and anti viral properties.
Cooking with leeks – recipe ideas
Here’s a few of our favourites from the leek recipe collection: