by Erin Marissa Russell
Has your garden produced a pile of leeks that you’re now wondering how to serve? American cuisine doesn’t often call on these tasty members of the allium family, but if you’re growing them this season, we assume you know just how delicious they are already. The recipes featured in this article will give you lots of new ideas for ways to serve all the leeks you’ve grown in your garden.
How to Clean Leeks
The stacked, folded leaves of your garden leeks seem to be the perfect shape to trap and hold dirt and other garden debris that isn’t so tasty. Make sure to clean your leeks as directed here to prevent that dirt from ending up on someone’s plate. If your recipe calls for chopped leeks, do your knifework, then immerse the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water, swishing them and draining, then replacing the liquid until it comes out clear. If you’ll be leaving your leeks more in their original shape, be sure to fan out the leaves under the running tap so any dirt or debris between the leaves is washed away.
How to Cut Leeks
After you’ve cleaned your leeks, first cut off the root end and dispose of it. If your recipe doesn’t use the dark green part of the leek leaves, you can cut those off and discard them as well. Then follow the directions in your recipe for slicing your leeks before using them.
Combine Leeks with Other Homegrown Vegetables for Fresh Side Dishes
Leeks have a clean, almost grassy flavor that’s the perfect partner for lots of vegetables (and maybe some of those vegetables are ones you’re also growing in the garden). The recipes listed below will pair your homegrown leeks with lots of other veggies for delightful sides to accompany whatever you’re serving today. Take a look at the recipes here to see what we mean.
Take a Cue from Italian Chefs When You’re Preparing Leeks.
There’s just something about Italian cuisine that makes leeks from the garden shine. Whether they’re sauteed and stirred with pasta or layered into a baked lasagna, leeks are right at home in many Italian dishes. Learn about how the Italians eat their leeks with the collection of recipes in this section.
Create Savory Comfort Foods with Leeks and Dairy.
Dairy makes anything creamy and delicious, and your homegrown leeks are no exception. Whether they’re folded into a cheesy casserole or topped with a savory, flavorful whipped cream, adding dairy to your leek dishes is a surefire way to make this veggie a hit at the dinner table. The recipes we’ve rounded up here should inspire you.
Call on Recipes from Around the Globe for New Ways to Eat Leeks.
Most American diners have limited leeks to a few standard dishes, but in other cuisines, leeks are a more common star. Persian recipes include leeks in a variety of ways, and lots of other Asian or European cultures have their own traditional treatments. Expand your culinary horizons with these flavorful meals that will make good use of your homegrown leeks.
Call on the Classic Preparation and Serve Your Leeks in Simmered Soups.
Leek and potato soup is a classic, and rightfully so. When they’re cooked for long periods over low heat, leeks absolutely melt into a broth. Their oniony, buttery flavor lends itself perfectly to soups from traditional comforting bowls of veggie blends to curried concoctions that spice leeks up. Read the recipes below for a few of our favorite soup recipes that feature leeks.
Match Leeks with Flavorful, Unusual Ingredients for Memorable Dishes.
Leek and potato are an age-old pairing, but there are plenty of more unusual flavors that will partner just as well with the leeks your garden produces. From specialty ingredients (like saffron and anchovies) to those you just wouldn’t normally consider including in a leek dish (like millet or walnuts), the recipes below call on innovative flavorscapes to help your homegrown leeks shine.
Don’t Forget About the Dark Green Parts of the Leek When You’re Cooking.
Though many recipes call only for the white and light green parts of leeks, the tougher leek greens are just as delicious when cooked properly. Some chefs trash them, saying that the dark green ends of the leek leaves are too tough to be tasty. With proper preparation, though, they’re just as tender and edible as the rest of your homegrown leeks. Reference the recipes here for ideas.
With so many recipes to choose from, you’re probably ready to get into the kitchen and see what your leeks can do. There’s nothing more flavorful than veggies fresh from the garden, and armed with these ideas for cooking your leeks, they’re sure to delight your dinner guests.