5 delicious ways to enjoy leeks

Leeks are often overlooked for other members of the allium family, like onions, shallots and chives. But leeks have their own unique, mildly sweet taste and delicate texture.

Leeks chopped up

Some think the white base of a leek vegetable is a bulb. But it’s actually a tube of twisted leaves that become dark green and spread outwards at the top. Leeks taste at their best in the UK between October and April.

How to store leeks

Leeks can keep for up to two weeks when wrapped up tight and kept in the fridge. This also creates a barrier to prevent their strong odour from being absorbed by foods nearby. Just don’t wash or trim your leeks until you’re ready to use them.

How to prep leeks

Trim off the root at the bottom of the leek and compost it. The tougher, woody green leaves at the top are often discarded in leek recipes, but they’re still full of the same good flavour. Slice them very finely and save them for stock later. 

For a more obvious texture and a stronger onion taste in leek recipes, slice your leek vegetables into chunky rounds or half-moons. For a sweeter flavour and subtle texture that almost melts away in a stew or sauce, cut them very finely. 

Washing your leeks thoroughly before cooking them is very important as they conceal a lot of grit and soil between their layers. Place your leek slices into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Separate their layers until you can no longer see any dirt. Or, if you’re using whole leeks, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. The dirt will naturally rise to the water’s surface. Repeat, if needed, until the water is clear.

5 ideas for cooking leeks

Although they often subtly improve the flavours of pies, soups and pasta dishes, we think leeks deserve centre stage. And while there’s no one best way to cook leeks, here are some of our favourite ideas.

In vinaigrette

After trimming 6 leeks, halve and cut them lengthways into strips. Boil them in salted water for 8-15 mins (depending on their size) or steam them. Drain the leeks and allow them to cool. 

In a bowl, combine 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. In stages, pour 3 tbsp vegetable oil, stirring continuously. Drizzle onto the leeks, then sprinkle minced shallots and chives. 

(via My Parisian Kitchen)

Salad

Put leeks on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and season. Grill for 10 mins, until blackened all over. Peel away any heavily burnt parts of the leeks and compost them, then slice the soft insides into bite sized pieces. 

Arrange on a platter with watercress, pickled plums, mozzarella (or soft vegan cheese) and scattered hazelnuts. 

(via Delicious Magazine)

In pancakes

Heat olive oil on a medium heat in a large pan. Add 230g mushrooms, 2 small leeks (sliced into half-moons) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and stir often until softened. Add garlic and thyme and cook for another 1-2 mins, then turn off the heat and stir in nutritional yeast. 

Cook about 5 pancakes and top them with the leek and mushroom filling.

(via Minimalist Baker)

On toast with cashew cream

Soak 150g cashews for 2 hours minimum, then drain. Very finely chop 350g leeks. Set both aside. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, then add 30g finely chopped shallots and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Fry gently until soft. Add the leeks, 1 tsp vegetable stock powder, 125ml white wine and 2 tsp thyme. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 mins, stirring, until the leeks are cooked. 

Make cashew cream by adding the cashews to a blender bowl, along with 150ml water, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tsp wholegrain mustard and 2 tbsp nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth and season to taste. Add the cashew cream to the pan with the leeks and mix together. Serve on toasted bread and top with parsley.

(via The Flexitarian)

Oven baked with rice

Slice 400g leeks into 5mm rounds and add to a bowl along with 85g rice (arborio works well, but any will do). Lightly beat 2 eggs or collect 6 tbsp of aquafaba. Add to the bowl together with a dash of olive oil and some grated strong cheese (dairy or plant-based). Mix well with your hands and then leave to rest for 1 hour. 

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a medium baking dish with olive oil and spoon in the mixture. Mix more cheese with dried breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the top. Drizzle with oil and bake for 45-50 mins.

(via Delicious Magazine)

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