Produce of the Month Guide: Leeks
Produce of the Month Guide: Leeks is an informative guide to using leeks and a round up of 21 recipes!
Spring is on the horizon and I couldn’t be more excited about it. There are blooms all over the trees and the air is thick with pollen, so my hay fever is beginning to ramp up.
It’s a small price to pay considering winter will be over soon. 🙂
For this month’s produce of the month guide I chose leeks because they’re one of my favorite ingredients and they truly make me think of spring.
I think leeks are underused because people don’t know what else to make with them besides classic potato leek soup. Years ago I started using leeks more and more and they’ve become a staple ingredient for me because they make every recipe just a little more special.
Leeks are vegetables in the Allium ampeloprasum family, which also includes varieties of onions and garlic. While onions and garlic form tight bulbs, leeks grow in long cylinder shapes comprised of bundled leaf sheaths or layers.
Leeks look similar to green onions but they’re much larger — they’re often 1 – 2″ in diameter and up to 12″ long!
Leeks have a very mild onion aroma and flavor, and they’re a bit sweeter than regular onions. They’re delicate flavor will never overpower your dish and they won’t make you cry when you cut them either. 🙂
While the dark green parts are edible, they’re not often used because they’re quite tough. The white and light green parts are great raw or cooked, and you can save those dark green parts for your vegetable stock.
Choosing and Storing Leeks
Select leeks that are firm and straight, with no signs of discoloration, wilting or cracking. It’s best to choose untrimmed leeks as the dark green leaves promote longer life.
The younger the leek the more delicate the flavor, so look for leeks that are no less than 1/2″ in diameter and not much larger than 1 1/2″ in diameter.
You should also choose leeks that have at least 2-3 inches of white/light green parts since those are the parts that you’ll be using in your recipes.
Store leeks in the refrigerator untrimmed and unwashed for up to 5 days to 2 weeks in the vegetable crisper drawer, depending on their freshness.
Leeks have a strong aroma that can be absorbed by other foods in your refrigerator, so you can wrap them in plastic wrap to avoid this (I’ve never wrapped my leeks and have never had a problem with this).
Freezing leeks isn’t recommended as their delicate flavor will turn bitter and the texture can be mushy.
I’m growing leeks in my garden right now for the first time so I don’t have any first hand knowledge to pass on. I found an in-depth article here if you’d like more information.
Leeks provide the same nutrients and health benefits that garlic and onions do. They’re high in Vitamin A, C and K, and are good sources of iron, calcium, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and thiamin.
Alliums like onions, garlic and leeks are known for their cancer and disease fighting compounds, and they also contain diuretic, laxative and antiseptic properties.
How To Prep Leeks
- Grab a sharp knife and a cutting board!
- Trim the dark leafy tops off the leeks (don’t throw them away — use in my Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock)
- Trim the “hairy” end off of the bottom of the leek, being careful not to remove the entire base
- Slice the leek in half lengthwise, leaving the base intact
- Clean it! Leeks are very gritty and require cleaning. My favorite way to do this is to gently spread the layers and hold upright under cold running water. Be sure to spread each layer well to allow the water to rinse away all the grit. Blot dry before cutting
- Cut the leeks in half at the base, then place cut-side down on the cutting board and cut into thinly sliced half moons
Once prepped, use leeks within 1-2 days.
If you prefer, you can slice the leeks and place in a bowl of cold water to remove the grit. Scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon and drain…all of the grit will be at the bottom of the bowl.
Bacon Leek Dip by Kitchen Confidante
Bacon Mushroom Make Ahead Quiche by Sweet Peas and Saffron
Cheesy Leek and Lentil Rolled Omelet with Artichokes by Simple Bites
Dirty Rice with Collards and Leeks by Letty’s Kitchen
Easy Cauliflower Leek Soup by Kristine’s Kitchen
Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts and Leeks by Floating Kitchen
Healthy Potato Leek Soup with Orzo by My Sequined Life
Instant Pot Irish Potato and Kale Soup by Letty’s Kitchen
Leek and Parmesan Muffins by Healthy Seasonal Recipes
One Pot White Bean Pasta by Sweet Peas and Saffron
Potato Leek Soup by Savory Nothings
Spring Potato Salad by Making Thyme for Health
Sweet Potato and Leek Hash with Andouille Sausage by The Roasted Root