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Many people don’t really know what to do with leeks. And to be honest, I don’t cook with them as much as I probably should.
I’ve gotten all kinds of questions about leeks. Everything from, “Which part do you eat“, to “Why is there so much dirt in my food?”
But it’s okay guys, I’m here to help! Here is your official guide to leeks. Buying them, storing them, prepping them and cooking with them!
Leeks In The Kitchen
Leeks are part of the garlic and onion family and have been used in the kitchen for thousands of years. They add delicious flavor to potato soup, casseroles, omelets and many other savory dishes.
The most important thing to look for in selecting leeks is that they have a nice, large white and light green section. You won’t use the tough, dark green tops, so you want as much white and light green area as possible. They should have a generally fresh appearance and be firm to the touch.
Look for leeks that still have some roots at the bottom as well. Smaller leeks have the best flavor, but you will often find the larger ones in abundance.
Do not buy leeks that have yellow-ish leaves or leaves (the dark green part) that are dried out.
Leeks can be stored in the vegetable crisper drawer of your fridge. They are best used up within a week, but will last up to two or three weeks if also kept in a plastic bag.
You do not have to blanch leeks. Once cleaned (see below), you can easily freeze them in single layers on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a bag. I find personally that it’s always best to cut or slice them before freezing so they are prepped and ready to go. Just be sure they are nice and dry before freezing.
Leeks consist entirely of many layers.
I like to start by rinsing off the leeks. Just a quick rinse to get any loose dirt off the outside layer. That way, when you cut, you aren’t pushing more dirt into the leek with your knife.
First, cut off the dark green tops.
The place to cut them is right where the light green begins to become darker green. The dark green tops are too tough, so you want to discard them or stash them in the freezer for making broth or stock. Just don’t try to eat them.
Next, cut off the roots and discard them as well.
Then cut them in half lengthwise.
Rinse out all the layers. Dirt gets stuck in between, so this is important. Take the time to clean them properly. Your teeth will thank you later when you are not crunching on dirt! But keep the layers together to make it easier to chop them.
Cut them into about 1/2 inch wide slices. You can always cut thinner if you prefer, but I like them at 1/2 inch.
Leeks are treated like onions in cooking. What you do with them will depend heavily on your recipe. They can be eaten in large, sliced pieces or run through a blender with soup. The important thing is to be sure they get fully cooked. Undercooked leeks will be tough to chew and stringy. I often saute them first before adding them to my recipe just to be sure.