Prepare to embark on a leek-cutting adventure that will have you dreaming of delightfully savory dishes like vegetarian shepherd’s pie! Join me as we unveil the secrets of prepping these delightful alliums. I’ve got a step-by-step guide on how to cut leeks as well as an easy way to clean them.
I first knowingly tried leeks while recipe testing for my Vegan Potato Soup and was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful they were. I had to Google how to prep them though. They are not self-explanatory! Now that I’ve mastered them, I’m here to give you all the tips on conquering this veggie yourself.
Kitchen confidence is a skill that anyone can obtain with practice, one piece of unique produce at a time. There was a time I didn’t know how to cut an avocado, how to peel kiwi or how to cut fennel and now I prep them like it’s no big deal.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How to Cut Raw Leeks
Before we start chopping, let’s grab a few things to make this process easier. I like to use a cutting board and a sharp chef’s knife. Here’s how I prep them:
Step 1: Start by cutting off the dark green leaves and the root end of the leek. The roots look like those of a green onion and should be easy to determine. The dark green part fades into light green then white, both parts you can eat.
Step 2: Thinly slice the remaining stalk. You’ll notice that the slices have several rings or layers, just like onions. You can easily separate these with your fingers, so you end up with dozens of small circles, easy for dicing or using as is, depending on what the recipe calls for.
Now that you’ve cut one up, let’s get to washing! This might seem backward, yet you’ll soon know why it’s important to clean leeks after cutting them up instead of before.
How to Clean Leeks
As you can see from chopping up this funky veggie, it contains several layers. Dirt can easily slip into these layers, making it difficult to wash this veggie before cutting it, so I like to clean it afterward.
Step 1: Fill a bowl with water, then toss in your cut-up pieces.
Step 2: Gently stir the pieces with your hands to help the dirt and sand fall to the bottom of the bowl.
Step 3: Once you feel like all the leek parts are clean, scoop them out into a colander and lightly rinse before drying with a paper towel or tea towel.
Right from the store, whole leeks can be stored in the refrigerator. If they came home in a plastic bag, remove it to let them breathe and not get trapped in any moisture. They typically stay fresh for 1-2 weeks.
Sliced leeks should be kept in an airtight bag or container in the fridge, and used within three days of slicing to stay fresh.
This mild vegetable is part of the allium family along with shallots, onions, garlic, chives and scallions. They are high in vitamins A and K with a host of antioxidants.
Alliums are known for helping to keep the heart healthy as well as lower inflammation in the body. They are easy to toss into a wide variety of dishes so that we can soak in all their nutritional greatness.
A Note on the Greens
When I bought my first leek I thought for sure I’d be chopping up that tough green top to use. Oh how wrong I was! The long green tops are actually quite bitter and not pleasant to eat.
Instead, you can save them in your freezer bag for homemade vegetable stock, or toss them right into your compost bin. They don’t have to go to waste! Your garden will thank you.
Recipes Using Leeks
You can use this savory plant in almost any recipe that uses onions. They are milder but still packed with flavor. They also like to shine on their own, and I’ve got a few recipes that allow their slightly sweet, oniony flavor to show:
Now that you know how to prepare this green vegetable, feel free to toss it into soups, casseroles, a pan of roasted veggies or sautéd ingredients. It is truly delicious!
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How to Cut Leeks
- sharp chef's knife
- glass bowl
- 1 leek
- Place the whole leek on a cutting board. Cut off the dark leafy green part of the leek as well as the root end.
- Thinly slice the rest of the stalk. Separate the layers of each ring with your fingers.
- Place the sliced rings of leek into a bowl of water. Gently toss the pieces to shake loose any dirt or sand.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the leek pieces to a colander and rinse under cold water briefly. Pat dry on a paper towel or tea towel before using.
- Make sure to cut the leek before washing it as dirt is easily trapped in its many layers and won’t come loose if washing it whole.
- Store whole leeks in the fridge without any wrapping around them. They should stay fresh for 1-2 weeks.
- Store chopped leeks in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
- You can swap leeks into any recipe that calls for onion for a sweeter, milder flavor.