A relative of both garlic and onion, leeks have a milder flavor that's distinctive in all sorts of dishes. Leeks look like a larger version of a scallion, and need to be trimmed and cleaned before chopping.
The leek is a favorite vegetable of the British, French, and Italians, who have countless ways of serving this cylindrical stalk with layered green leaves. Leeks are usually cooked before eating and are enjoyed either warm or cold. Dirt tends to get in between the layers, so make sure you give your leeks a good rinse before using.
Purchasing and Storing Leeks
Leeks are generally available year-round. They should be crisp and healthy looking. Those smaller than 1-1/2 inches in diameter are more tender than larger ones. Store leeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Place the leek on a cutting surface. Using a chef's knife or large knife, cut a thin slice from the root end. Cut the dark green, tough leaves off the end and discard. Remove any wilted leaves from the remaining light-color section. This is the section of the leek that is tender and best for cooking. Hold the leek with one hand and cut it into slices of the desired thickness using the chef's knife. Place the slices in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cool running water. Drain the slices on paper towels before using.
1. Another popular way to use a leek is to slice it in half lengthwise all the way through the root end with a chef's knife. Some recipes call for halved leeks. This is also a first step before chopping or slicing into half-moon shapes.
2. Before using the leek halves, wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt from between the layers. Hold each leek half under the faucet with the root end up. Rinse the leek under cool running water, separating and lifting the leaves with your fingers to make sure the dirt is flushed out. Drain on paper towels.
3. To slice or chop the leek halves, place each half, cut-side down, on a cutting surface. Hold the leek half with one hand and use a chef's knife to chop or cut it into slices of desired thickness.
Leek Recipes to Try: