I have heard several times that people are intimidated by leeks and will ultimately avoid using them in their recipes. But, I am here to show you that leeks are nothing to fear and should be used and enjoyed by all!
What are Leeks?
Leeks are a type of vegetable that is closely related to onions, chives, garlic, shallots, scallions, and Chinese onions. They are often found growing wildly and they form a sort of stalk with leafy ends.
Leeks are a great low-calorie food that contains measurable amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A!
So far, I don’t see how leeks are so intimidating.
Some tips on how to grow Leeks
If you want a fall harvest of leeks then it is best to plant their seeds, indoors during late winter. Though, if you want a spring harvest then your leeks should be planted in August.
Leeks require a well-composted soil in order to thrive, regard, was of plant time. Their soil should also be kept moist at all times.
When planting your leeks, create a trench around each of them that is about 6 inches deep. As the stalk grows, you will need to pile about an inch or two of soil from the trench to surround the walk. This ensures that the stalk will be more tender and white and than firm and green.
Leek beds will need to be soaked twice a week to ensure proper soil moisture levels. This will obviously depend on the type of season you are having as well (a severely dry or severely wet season).
How to use Leeks
The entire leek stalk can be eaten and used in one way or another. The darker green areas will require more cooking to make them tender but they can also be added to soup stock to add flavor!
Once you harvest your leeks from your garden, you will need to clean and prep them before using them in any recipe.
- First, cut off the rotted end of the leek stalk.
- Trim off the dark green tops (you can clean them and add them to stock if you wish).
- Next, cut the leek stalk lengthwise (hotdog cut, not hamburger cut).
- Rinse each halved piece under cool tap water until all of the soil, dirt, and grit have been washed away.
- Drain completely before using them in your cooking.
Potato and Leek soup
- 4 tablespoons butter (If you have any chicken fat or schmaltz on hand, swap in half the butter for chicken fat)
- 1 cup Vidalia onions, chopped
- 5 cups leeks chopped, white only and cleaned of sand
- 1 cup celery chopped
- ½ cup celery leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
- 1 ½ pounds yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and diced
- 1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 quarts homemade chicken stock, see here (or vegetable broth if you prefer to keep this vegetarian)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (depending on how salty your chicken stock is)
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Chives chopped, for garnish
- In a 4-5 quart stock pan, melt butter over medium heat (and chicken fat if you have it) and add onions, leeks, celery, and celery leaves and saute for ten minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook two more minutes.
- Add both potatoes and stock and increase heat.
- Tie the bay leaves and fresh thyme together with butcher’s twine and add along with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove thyme and bay leaf and discard.
- Puree with an immersion blender then stir in the cream and taste. Season if needed.
- Serve with chopped fresh chives.
After doing a little research about leeks, I feel like I could easily handle cooking with them. I also feel confident enough to add them to my garden this year! I hope you feel confident to start using them, too!