The leek looks like an big scallion, which it kind of is—like scallions, it’s a member of the allium genus, along with onions and garlic. Leeks are mild and sweet when cooked. They are very versatile in the kitchen but their cost is a downside. If you’re buying leeks by the weight, make sure there is lot of white on the stalk; because you’ll have to trim off most of the green.
Buying and storing leeks
Generally, you’ll see that the smaller the leek, the more tender they are; but bigger specimens are wonderful too. Avoid leeks that are only green, slimy, or dried out. Store your fresh bought leeks loosely wrapped in plastic in the bottom of the refrigerator; they will keep for several weeks.
Wash well because leeks usually has sand between their layers, and it’s not very pleasant to feel when eating. The process is to cut off the root end and all green leaves. Then make a long vertical cut through the center of the vegetable. Start about 1 inch from the root end and cut all the way to the green end — leaving the root end intact helps keep the leek from falling into parts when you wash it. Wash we under cold water. Make sure to get the sand out from between the layers. We made a little slideshow to show you the steps.
The easy way that works only if you don’t want to keep the leeks whole ( for quiches, stir fry… ) is to trim, chop, and wash in a salad spinner, as you would do for salad greens.
Best cooking methods for leeks
When are my leeks done? When they are cooked soft — almost melting.
Other vegetables to substitute: Onions, shallots, or scallions.
Try these delicious recipes using leeks from our recipes index: