Along with Spring onions, leeks have been all over the farmers markets. Although they're in season year-round here in California, lately they've been too fresh-looking to pass up. Like scallions, these alliums are long stems of bundled leaf sheaths, but they have a much milder, mellower flavor, making them a favorite even amongst the onion-averse. For more ideas about choosing, caring for, and consuming them, keep on reading.
At the market, seek out firm leeks with white necks, vivid, perky green stalks, and unblemished roots and leaves. The smaller they are, the more tender they will be; buy more than necessary to allow for volume loss due to trimming and cooking. Keep leeks unwashed, untrimmed, and wrapped loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a week or so, or freeze them for up to three months. Consume cooked leeks the same day.
When preparing this root vegetable, be sure to remove any tough or damaged outer leaves, and give them a thorough rinse to remove all traces of dirt. Then slice and enjoy them raw, boiled, fried, or sautéed. Here are a few of my favorite ways to consume them:
- Start off your meal with a simple leek salad.
- Roast the plant in the oven until soft, crisp, and caramelized, then blend in a potato soup.
- Sweat leeks, then stir them into mashed potatoes just like you would with chives.
- Boost complexity in a cheddar mac and cheese.
- Top off a gruyère tart with leeks and chanterelle mushrooms.
- Stir-fry slices of leek, dark green tops and all, with pieces of chewy bacon and Sichuan dried chiles.
- Use them to make your own bouquet garni for stews and soups.
What do you like to do with leeks?