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Help me eat this: Take a leek

Leeks

Several years ago I was watching a TV show on healthy eating in which the host was playing a game with school children. He’d hold up a vegetable and ask the kids to name it. The results were rather sad. The kids couldn’t name some basic veggies. I was feeling rather superior, calling out “Asparagus!” and “Radishes!” with glee until the host picked up an odd, green leafy thing and I was stumped.

“It’s a leek!” he told the kids. I still didn’t understand what he meant. A leek? What the hell was a leek? I Googled it and discovered there was indeed a vegetable called a leek and according to this site it was related to the onion in some way. And now, Farm Fresh Delivery has dumped one on my doorstep. So I ask you, dear readers, what shall I do with my leeks?

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62 Comments

Erin • March 31, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I don’t know what your general diet patterns are these days, but this recipe:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/08/french-in-a-flash-drunken-angel-hair-with-leeks-and-cream-recipe.html

is very good. It’s not low carb, or low fat, or really low anything but it’s really yummy. Creamy and comforting, a little like a more upscale macaroni and cheese. Definitely make sure you buy a wine that you would also drink – the whole dish takes on the flavor of the wine so this is not the place to use a random bottle just to use it up (unless you like it). I’m not saying the wine needs to be expensive, just palatable to you.

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Amanda • March 31, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I just made a leek dish last weekend! It was a sweet potato/parsnip/leek casserole, and I think the recipe was originally from a WW magazine. It was really easy and delicious. Here’s how to make it:
Cut one and a half sweet potatoes and a pound of parsnips into quarter-inch rounds. Steam these for about ten minutes, until tender. Cut three leeks (but I only used two– they were big) into quarter-inch rounds up through the light green part. Saute the leeks in olive oil until they start to get a little bit brown (about ten minutes). Spray a 2-quart baking dish (I used a covered roaster) and put the sweet potatoes and parsnips in. Top with the leeks. Then make a sauce by heating two Tablespoons of olive oil and whisking in a quarter-cup of whole wheat flour. When it’s smooth, add a cup of chicken broth and some thyme, salt, and nutmeg. Just a little. Whisk, whisk, whisk, over medium-low heat till the sauce is nice and thick. Pour this over the leeks. Top with parmesan cheese, and bake (covered) for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10 to brown the cheese. Yum!

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Brittany • March 31, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Oops, wasn’t finished. One of my favorite ways to eat leeks is in a leek tart. Here are a couple of good ones:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Leek-Tart-102979

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Belgian-Leek-Tart-with-Aged-Goat-Cheese-em-Flamiche-Aux-Poireaux-em-350098

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monkey vision • March 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm

My husband prepares them with a champagne and dijon mustard sauce over sauteed chicken breast. Very yummy. The recipe is from an old cookbook from the Frugal Gourmet.

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Cath • March 31, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Really quick and easy (and incredibly yummy!):
Chop the leeks into (maybe 1-2cm thick) slices.
Fry lightly (just a minute or 2 in a little oil or butter (in a smallish pan which has a lid)
Add a bit of vegetable stock – not even enough to cover the leeks, just about halfway cover them.
Put the lid on, reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave them until they’re nice and soft.
Truly truly yummy!
I normally have it with roast chicken and mash, but would quite happily just sit and eat a bowl all on it’s own.

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vanessa • March 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Check out this blog for a tasty and easy recipe: Masoor Daal (Red Lentils) with Leeks

this is the first daal i’ve ever made and i felt like a rock star. so easy and delicious!

http://urbanvegan.net/2010/03/daal-recipe-flower-show-and-ski-weekend.html

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Aleta • March 31, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I cut them up (wash them!) and use them in a stir fry. Delicious!

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Rebecca in SoCal • March 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

It looks like you have enough ideas for cooking them, but I wanted to warn you about cleaning them. Following Brittany’s link, I found these instructions. http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/quick-tips-how-to-clean-leeks-054713

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Amy • March 31, 2010 at 1:24 pm

You do want to make sure they’re clean! Dirt hides way up in there.

I just made a fantastic potato leek soup over the weekend (from Bittman’s cookbook). You can do it as a brothy soup, or you can blend everything together at the end and add some light cream. I did the cream. And topped it with crunchy crumbled bacon & shredded cheese. Yum.

Leeks can basically be used anywhere you’d use an onion – but they have a milder flavor.

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Indianapolis Amy • March 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I agree, potato and leek soup, or a tart or quiche. Simply Recipes always has lots of interesting recipes.

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Vanessa R • March 31, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Cock-a-leekie soup from Scotland. Hehe, the name always makes me snicker.

http://www.soyandpepper.com/2010/03/cock-leekie-chicken-and-leek-soup.html

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Lucy • March 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

In the UK we eat leeks all the time – and I agree with the leek and potato soup suggestions – yum! You can make low-fat versions and they still make great comfort food.

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JEM • March 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I have never ever bought or cooked with a leek but I have eating yummy leek soup and quiche that I loved…interested in hearing what you will do with those beauties.

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maxie • March 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm

If you’re not concerned about calories/fat, this is our favorite: Spinach & Leek Gratin with Roquefort (although we use Gorzonzola instead and the second measurement is for half a recipe)

5 tablespoons butter, divided (3 + 2 Tbsp) 1 ½ Tbsp + 1 Tbsp
3 1/2 tablespoons horseradish Dijon mustard, divided (1Tbsp + 2 ¼ tsp) 1 Tbsp + 2 ¼ tsp
2 1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs from crustless French bread 1 c 3 Tbsp
1 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese (generous 4 ounces) 1/2 c
3 9-ounce bags spinach leaves about 14 oz
1 8-ounce leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups) about 1 ½ cups
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 3 oz.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Mix in 2 tablespoons mustard, then breadcrumbs. Sauté until breadcrumbs are golden, about 5 minutes. Cool briefly. Mix in cheese.
Toss 1 1/2 bags spinach in large nonstick pot over high heat until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to sieve set over bowl. Repeat with remaining spinach. Press on spinach to drain.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 4 minutes. Add cream, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard, and spinach. Toss until thick and blended, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to 7×11-inch baking dish. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Makes 8 servings

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maxie • March 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Oops! if you’re making the whole recipe, you’ll need a bigger baking pan.

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Debbi S. • March 31, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I’m with Aleta, I would just use it in a stir fry. Not very original but when in doubt, put it in stir fry. Hey, by the way. Guess what I’m making for dinner tonight!! Stir fry with sesame sauce. Yum. I have never actually cooked with leeks before though. Hope you find something awesome to eat with the leeks, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and if it really IS just like an onion.

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Claudia • March 31, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Here’s one of my favorite things to do with leeks – Chicken with Leeks

- Cut leeks in half, then cut into 1/4″ slices the other direction (so you’ll have little “C” shapes).
- Cook the leeks over medium heat with ~2 Tb olive oil until soft and browned (about 15-20 mins). Remove to a bowl.
- Cook two chicken breasts in the pan until brown, add oil to the pan if necessary.
- Sprinkle 1-2 Tb of cumin over the chicken, add the leeks back into the pan, and add 1/2 cup chicken broth. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Leeks are also tasty in quiches!

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Mandie • March 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm

haha you were watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, weren’t ya?

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sherijung • March 31, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I use a variation of the fritatta recipe from veggieventure whenever I have extra things like this that I want to cook up quick.

Oil/butter (your pick) in a cast-iron or other oven safe skillet, add chopped leeks, onion, garlic, whatever you have of the sort that wants to be sauteed in oil.

Add in your other veggies (broccoli, beans, carrots) that need a bit of cooking time to soften. Add in your favorite seasonings.

Once the veggies are close to done, add in your leafy greens to wilt, any tomatoes (I like sun-dried when fresh are not in season).

Prepare your egg mixture: eggs, milk, some cheese (could be nonfat cottage cheese, could be ricotta, or even shredded cheddar), and add in some stale bread cubes if you like some more carbs. I don’t measure, the proportions don’t seem overly important, so just eyeball it. You need enough to cover the veggies.

Add the egg mixture to the wilted green/veggies and stir gently while it cooks to get the eggs to start to solidify. Once it gets nice and thick, pull it off the stove and put it under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the egg sets up.

This is deceptively filling, especially if you use a high fiber whole wheat bread. Leftovers are yummy too.

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Jen • March 31, 2010 at 4:16 pm

My favorite recipe with leeks is definitely Cooking Light’s Golden Winter Soup recipe:
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1696601

Or, maybe a leek risotto?

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PastaQueen • March 31, 2010 at 4:27 pm

@Mandie – Close, but not quite. I watched the original British version of the show, Jamie’s School Dinners, several years ago.

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Morgan • March 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Potato Leek Soup!

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Missy • March 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm

you can just substitute them in anything you’d put an onion in.

I use them when i make stuffing, chicken soup, any cream based soup, saute, etc

Or you can just roast them :)
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/1382

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ari_1965 • March 31, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Ditto stir fries.

I trim the very bottom of the white and then slice or chip up the rest of the white and light green. I don’t care for the dark green as much, so I only chop up about two inches of that. And then I stirfry it with veg and meat.

I use the entire leek, sliced, in vegetable soup.

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Suzanne • March 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Leek and feta cheese borek!

http://www.turkishcookbook.com/2006/10/leek-and-feta-cheese-borek.php

1/2 cup yogurt
3/4 cup sunflower oil
3 eggs
3 sticks of leek, ends cut off, washed and finely sliced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Whisk the yogurt, eggs and sunflower oil in a deep plastic bowl. Toss in leek and feta cheese. Add the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Knead using your hands. Pour into an oven-safe pyrex dish. Bake until the top gets nice golden colour – it should take about 30-35 minutes. Cut in square pieces with a knife. Serve warm or at room temperature with tea or Ayran for breakfast or a snack.

Makes 8-10 servings.

or:
Leek with Olive Oil

http://www.turkishcookbook.com/2005/05/leek-with-olive-oil.php

1 bunch of leeks, washed and cut, in chunks
1 medium sized carrot, washed and chopped, bite size
75 ml extra virgin olive oil (half for cooking, half for after)
2 tbsp rice, washed
Juice from half a lemon
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
Salt

Place all the ingredients except half of the olive oil in a medium-sized pot. If needed, you can add more water. Cover the lid halfway and cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. After cooking, put on a service plate and pour the remaining olive oil over top. Let cool for a while, then refrigerate. Pirasa is served cold.

* This is a vegetarian dish.

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Rachel D • March 31, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Alton Brown Says that leeks make the best “onion” rings, so if you aren’t going the healthy route I say break out the Fryer!

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Jenny • March 31, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Mmm, I love leeks in quiche, with cheese sauce, in soup. Lots of things. I’m sure all the other commenters have mentioned it, but like other of your CSA veggies, the grit gets right in between the leaves. I normally chop them and then dunk in a big bowl of water, the grit goes to the bottom and the leeks float…

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Poppy K • March 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I’d make potato leek soup.I don’t have a recipe on me, but I’m sure it’s google-able and I recall that it’s pretty easy as long as you have a blender or Cuisinart.

If that doesn’t float your boat, I just had a yummy omelet with sauteed chopped leeks and mushrooms.

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townmouse • March 31, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Leeks are a real winter staple in the UK – delicious in any combination with cream, bacon and cheese (well, what isn’t?). The dark green leaves aren’t really edible, although I save them if I’m making stock. And if you slice them first they’re pretty easy to wash.

I managed to grow just one last year – but he was delicious (follow the link if you want a picture guide on leek preparation…)

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psychsarah • March 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I love roasted leeks. I learned this when I made a recipe in which you slice the leeks and cut grape or cherry tomatoes in half. Coat them in olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 min, I think at 400. Then top with salmon fillets (seasoned with salt and pepper) for 10 more minutes. I swear the veggies are like candy-sweet and yummy. I put the veggies on rice to soak up all the yummy juices (salivating as I type).

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Carol (CGtheFoodie) • March 31, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I love leeks! My favorite way to prepare them is to caramelize them and toss with pasta.

http://www.uncoveringfood.com/2009/04/caramelized-leek-penne-and-review-of.html

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Kyle • March 31, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I’m pretty sure I hate leeks. Although to be honest, I’m not sure if that’s the same thing I’m thinking of. There’s something like that in Chile but it’s a lot bigger. I think it’s called puero, but I can’t find the definition so that’s probably the wrong spelling.

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Natalie • March 31, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Leeks are great, with a mild onion flavour. You only eat the white part, the green bit is bitter and tough and nasty. Don’t even put the green bit in soup. I use leeks in a few things, but one quick favourite is a side dish – stir fry sliced leeks in a combination of butter and olive oil (butter for flavour, olive oil so the butter doesn’t burn) until soft, add sliced celery, a few cashews and some chopped chives. Salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir fry another minute (celery should still be crunchy). Really yummy.

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Barbara Raab • March 31, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Leeks for the Lazy:
Trim bottoms and dark tops.
Split vertically but not all the way through.
Rinse.
Steam.
Dress with olive oil, salt & pepper.
Enjoy.
(Can also chill these)

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The Homebody • March 31, 2010 at 10:17 pm

It looks like rubber gloves on vegetable stems.

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The Merry • March 31, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Thanks for the sneak peek at the leek of the week, you chic geek!

[Hey, leaving comments in Haiku is so last week. Today's hip, cool commenter is all about the doggerel.]

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Carole • March 31, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Like onions, only dirtier. You need to separate the individual bits to get out all the dirt when you’re washing. Then just saute and put in the same dishes in which you’d use onions, only often they are sweeter and milder. Really great in anything involving eggs. Also great in soups and stews.

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cindy • March 31, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Asparagus and Leek Frittata! Grill asparagus and leeks until tender. Add eggs and a little cheese to cast iron skillet and cook ’til bottom is lightly firm. Cover and bake in the oven until done (top no longer jiggles). This re-heats most excellently in the micro so can be breakfasts for a week!

Leeks also add a lovely flavor to soup broths. I use it in addition to onion for a broader, richer, more complex flavoring.

Leeks are awesome!

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andie • April 1, 2010 at 3:06 am

Whenever I make chicken soup, I slice a leek into about 4 or 5 big chunks (just the white part) and throw them in. Delicious! And nthing the wash them well thing.

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shauna/dg • April 1, 2010 at 4:49 am

I mostly use leeks for soups but you can’t beat some braised leeks as an accompaniment to some chicken or whatnot – http://www.reallynicerecipes.com/recipe/vegetables/leeks-braised

:)

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fd • April 1, 2010 at 5:01 am

I LOVE LEEKS.
Top dishes that come to mind:
1. The classic Leek and Potato soup. to be found all over the british isles all winter.
2. Lemon Leek and Prawn risotto: Can’t find the recipe online, but its basically this one, replacing the kaffir lime leaves with lemon zest and lemon juice, and without the peas. http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/Low-Fat-Prawn-Risotto-178794
3. Amai Udon: http://www.recipebinder.co.uk/recipe.aspx?rid=5014 (if you know anyone with the wagamama recipe book, its slightly simpler than this one).
4. And a leek quiche/tart. (others have given those recipes).

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Lesley • April 1, 2010 at 5:59 am

Leek and potato soup is a classic but I had a leek risotto last night and “it were grand” as they say in Yorkshire!

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Kelly • April 1, 2010 at 6:53 am

I know this is more of a Fall recipe, but one of my absolute favorite ways to use leeks is in an Apple, Leek and Butternut Squash Gratin: http://beeskneesrecipes.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/apple-leek-butternut-squash-gratin/

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ToyLady • April 1, 2010 at 7:41 am

I just did a potato & leek soup out of Cooking Light magazine a few weeks ago when I ran into a great deal on leeks:

http://darksideofthefridge.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/cooking-light-on-soup-night/

Simple, healthy AND tasty. And I didn’t get any leftovers.

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Dixie • April 1, 2010 at 8:43 am

Potato-leek soup is incredible!

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Jes • April 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

I make a low-cal, low-carb soup using leeks and cauliflower.

I don’t use a recipe . Slice leeks lengthwise first to wash and get all the sand/grit out. Sautee a few leeks, add chicken broth, add defrosted frozen cauliflower. There should be enough broth to just cover the veggies. Cook until all is soft. Then use a stick blender to mash it up until creamy. You can add a smidge of butter or cream if you like, but not necessary. Some herbs can also be nice.

This makes a thick, creamy soup that has almost no calories and tons of vitamins/fiber. Enjoy!

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Danielle • April 1, 2010 at 11:49 am

I took a photo of a menu board in a cafe a few months ago. Their soup of the day? Potato leak. I sent the photo to a friend who also enjoys spelling jokes.

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Quix • April 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm

My only help is potato leek soup – and I can’t share the recipe as it’s a friend’s family secret which I have been forbidden to post. I am TOTALLY going to steal some of the ideas from your very awesome commenters though, I’ve always wondered what the heck to do with the rest that I don’t put in the soup because they only sell them in like 54 lb bunches….

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Bonnie • April 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I don’t have the recipe at work with me — but weightwatchers has a meatball barley soup recipe that uses 2 leeks and is fabulous — the whole pot is 16 points, and a serving is very filling. I will email it to you when I get home. (although you could probably google and find it). You do know what barley is, don’t you ….

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Bonnie • April 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm

of course — google and you shall find. It’s here:

http://tastyplanner.com/recipes/meatball-and-barley-soup

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Sarah J • April 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

PQ.. just finished reading (Actually, listening.. I’m all about the Abridged anything) to Jillian Michael’s new book on Metabolism (at a endocrine doc’s suggestion BTW). She makes a GREAT argument for the POWER of the LEEK! One of her super foods, in fact. Thanks for posting the question. I typically use them when I’m making soup for depth of flavor. But, will be trying a bunch of the other recipes mentioned! YMMM…

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Emma • April 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I haven’t read through all of the comments, so maybe this is a repeat:

http://www.mixingbowl.com/message/recipe/view.castle?g=803100&m=10892923

My friend made this last night and used milk instead of half and half, and used an immersion blender to make it creamy-SO GOOD.

Just make sure to clean those suckers, unless you like eating sandy grit:)

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Lydia • April 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I know the ancient Romans ate them chopped up and mixed with lima beans.

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Sklig • April 2, 2010 at 8:23 am

at the soup restaurant I used to work at, they had a really good leek and potato soup.

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Amy • April 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

They seem to have leeks a lot here in Ireland. I had them in a potato/vegetable/breadcrumb thingy today at lunch at the work cafeteria. I don’t remember the fancy name they gave it but it looked like a breadcrumbed ball and was mashed potatoes inside (with the leeks and stuff).

The only time I cooked w/leeks in the states was this sesame leek soba noodle dish, which was pretty easy: http://www.deitchley.com/blog/2008/01/14/552/

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Rebecca • April 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm

This could be a repeat…I am bad and didn’t read the comments but I had to say that I loooove potato leek soup. Good luck with the leeks!

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Kristin • April 3, 2010 at 7:15 pm

My favorite ways to eat leeks: Slice them thinly and boil them right in with your potatoes for mashed potatoes. The extra flavor means you don’t need butter or cream. OR: wash and quarter a bunch of potatoes, beets, carrots, etc., and scatter some sliced leeks on top. Roast for about 45 minutes until they all start to caramelize — deliicous!

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Angela • April 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks – sliced (white and light green parts)
3 apples – sliced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (any vinegar will do)

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add leeks and fennel seeds; cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Add apples, and cook, tossing, until just beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Goes really well with pork tenderloin. I got the recipe from Martha.

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Juergen • April 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Hey, great recipes!

Thanks to all commenters! I’ve got another one.

As already said: make sure the leeks are pretty clean to protect your teeth (chewing on sand is aaaawwwful!!!).

I haven’t read all the recipes but here’s one for which you do not need to cook the leeks. Wherever I took this salad (especially recommended for barbeques – tastes great along with meat!), I never got a chance to eat a rest the next day – which is a pity as it usually tastes even better the second day.

Take

2-4 leeks
1 glass of mayonnaise (as this tends to be quite greasy, I always take light – my favourite is Kraft food’s “Miracel whip” (that’s its German name – I hate them for mixing up the last two letters ;) )
1 can of corn (400 g)
3-4 Apples (take sour ones like Granny Smith!)
3 hard boiled eggs

The rest is very easy: remove the outher leaves and the darkest green ends (fresh green is OK), cut all ingredients and throw ‘em in a bowl. Stir – ready! The salad gets better if you give it some time before eating. If the salad is too dry, you may add some low fat milk to the mayonnaise.

The only thing to focus on is that you cut the leeks AS SMALL AS YOU CAN. Else, the salad will be a bit hard-bitten and chewing on raw leeks makes some squeezing noise which can be avoided by cutting them pretty small (no rings, first cut the leeks longitudinally then across). The apples give more aroma to the salad if cut small, too.

Enjoy!!!

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Kate • April 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm

My husband’s Welsh, so we end up having leeks at least a few times a week (they…grow a lot of leeks there ;). Our standby veg (dinner must consist of meat and two veg!) is broccoli, cauli, and chopped leeks tossed in olive oil and roasted for about 30 mins until brown and crunchy. Add a bit of salt after you plate ‘em. The leeks sort of carmelize and are deeelicious!

This is so easy w/ frozen (then slightly thawed in the mirco) broc/cauli (we get the mixed bag from Costco). Then chop up a bunch of leeks at the beginning of the week so they’re ready to go. Easy, healthy, and yummy!

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Denise • May 16, 2010 at 6:19 pm

For reasons unknown I have decided that today will be the day that I attempt to eat more vegetables. Tonight I’m going grocery shopping and will buy some leeks and attempt to make them.

Now that I’ve read this, I actually have some ideas on how to go about doing that. I was just going to boil them in some salted water and hope for the best.

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