Its nutritional secrets have been leaked…the leek is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, iron and even some calcium. It’s time for leek recipes that glorify this savory wonder veg. Hence the popularity of the Russian proverb, “Eat leeks in tide and garlic in May, and all the year after physicians may play.” A cousin to garlic and the onion, the leek is a bit less pungent than either, and sweeter when cooked. That’s why the leek is a tasty alternative to the standard (and frankly, sometimes boring) white onion in most recipes.
When you bring home this cylindrical stalk form the market for the first time, with its green leaves tightly wrapped around one end and a bulb with dangling roots on the other, you may not know what to do with it. To begin with, wash it well, as its crevices allow for plenty of soil to get embedded. Next, when it’s lying on your cutting board, ready for chopping, be aware that its edible parts are the white base of the leaves and the light green part. The dark green part isn’t used in recipes as often. Leeks are usually chopped up into 2-4 inch portions; be warned that they tend to fall apart, due to their layered structure. You’ll see that substituting leeks in most recipes that call for onion or scallions is smart culinary choice. Here are 15 leek recipes that are leek-lovely and fool proof.
1. Bacon and Leek Quiche
Come on, give me a quiche. And your whole family will be lining up to truly kiss you after you serve up this tasty quiche made up of bacon, leeks, Gruyere cheese, cream, and thyme. Serve on a plate with a pretty green side salad.
Read Related: Potato-Leek Soup: Classic (and Lighter) Vichyssoise
2. Pasta with Bacon and Leeks
Warm you winter soul with a big bowl of pasta. This dish calls for first sautéing bacon in a pan and cooking the leeks in its sauce. Then add heavy cream and parmesan to the pan, along with the cooked pasta, and sprinkle some chives before serving. Goes best with rigatoni.
3. Leeks Vinaigrette
Want your leeks to have a buttery texture? When cooking leeks, braise them in a deep ovenproof skillet, then marinate them in wine and chicken stock, then bake them a good while, and finally season them with vinaigrette. This elegant dish is delicious alongside broiled fish or roasted chicken.
4. Pan Roasted Chicken with Leeks
This scrumptious dish calls for spreading bacon in an ovenproof skillet until it renders its juice, then adding the chicken, garlic and leeks. Stick the pan in the oven for about half an hour, set the chicken aside, cook the leeks and bacon in flour, lemon and half and half and pour it over the chicken and serve.
5. Caramelized Leek and Bacon Pizza
This simple and fast pizza with bacon-y edge will taste all the better with sprinklings of sweet caramelized leeks. Just spread out a pound of pizza dough and spread on mascarpone mozzarella, then top with leeks and bacon and Parmesan.
6. Potato Leek Soup or Vichyssoise
Whether served warm in the winter or cold in the summer, Vichyssoise a soup created by a French chef in NY in 1917, is a delicious and nutritious combo made up of potatoes, leeks, chicken stock, and plenty of cream.
7. Mac and Cheese with Leeks and Gorgonzola
Your family will adore you for this sinfully good meal that’s made for the kid in all of us. The leeks and gorgonzola add a gourmet touch to this familiar recipe In a bowl combine cooked leeks and pasta with Béchamel sauce and then bake for forty minutes in the oven.
8. Speedy Salmon and Leek One-Pot
Looking for speedy, one-pot action tonight in the kitchen? This healthy dish calls for a batch of finely sliced leeks, salmon steaks, Dijon mustard, honey, tomatoes, seasonings, and a microwave dish and poof, dinner is served.
9. Low Carb Cauliflower and Leek Soup
Looking to slim down after the holidays? This creamy, delicious, and nutritious hot veggie soup may be low carb, but believe us it tastes very fattening. If you’re avoiding lactose, add beans instead of cream to give it a thicker and richer texture, plus protein. Perfect for a wintery night; and also a great recipe to learn how to start cooking leeks.
10. Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding
This perfect blend of veggies, Gruyere cheese, cream, and baked breadcrumbs is the ultimate in comfort food in a casserole. The dry sherry and diced pancetta add a heavenly rich flavor to the leek and mushroom filling. Serve with a dry red wine.
11. Spaghetti with Bay Scallops, Leeks, and Tarragon
Impress your friends with this easy to cook dish that relies on the subtly sweet flavor of leeks mixed with seafood. Combine leeks, garlic, tarragon leaves, lemon zest, butter, and grilled scallops over delicious spaghetti, and get ready to break out your best white wine for this special occasion.
12. Garlicky Leeks in Olive Oil
Need the perfect Middle Eastern inspired veggie side to accompany your fish or meat dish? Mix up some extra virgin olive oil, two leeks, salt, pepper, and cilantro and it’s done. Be sure to buy a loaf bread just to soak up the remaining oil when the leeks have vanished.
13. Fusilli with Creamed Leek and Spinach
Fun to eat and so easy to make. Just cook up that screwy pasta in one pot and in a separate pan sauté one large leek in olive oil and garlic, add cream, then the spinach and toss onto the pasta. Sprinkle chopped basil on top of the pasta mix, toss, and serve it up with some grated parmesan.
14. Creamy Dijon Leeks
This warm salad is the perfect accompaniment to salmon and beef dishes. Just wash and cut the leeks into 3 inch pieces and steam until tender. Then heat them in chicken broth and whisk in a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and sprinkle over some minced parsley. Spoon over the leeks and voila, a healthy winter salad.
15. Chicken with Creamy Braised Leeks
Imagine tender braised leeks served with piping hot chicken breasts, and with a rich sauce made of cream, garlic and thyme that is silky perfection over fettuccine or mashed potatoes. It only takes a half hour to prepare, so sit down, pop the wine, and take in the aroma while it’s still in the oven.
Photos 2,4 7, 10 & 14 courtesy Foodnetwork.com