In the kitchen
Will keep happily for a week or so in your fridge. If you’ve kept them for too long and they begin to look a bit shabby, you can strip away and discard the top few layers. You’ll know when they are no good to eat – nothing smells quite like a rotting leek.
Prep & Cooking tips
Always wash a leek as they love to trap mud and grit in their funnel shaped leaves. This is best done by splitting them in half and cleaning them in cold water with the leaves pointing down.
Blanch, braise or stir-fry. You can use more of a leek than you think. The dark green tops are tough but perfect for stock pots and long cooked stews. If you fumble through the layers you’ll find a core as light, tender and usable as the lower part.
1. Steamed or boiled
Leeks will cook faster than you think: 3-4 mins when sliced, 8-10 when whole. This will, of course, vary with their size. Always season the water well with salt if boiling. Whole leeks are done when the tip of a knife will pass through without much resistance.
Trim the leeks and keep whole. Boil or steam as above. Strip away the top layer of skin. Season lightly with salt. Heat a griddle pan or BBQ rack until smoking hot. Split the leeks in half lengthways. Place them on the griddle for about 20 seconds each side, or so they have taken the line marks but not started to burn.
3. Slow cook
Leeks, like their cousin the onion, will be transformed by a low and slow spell in a pan. Slice or dice your leeks and sweat down on a gentle heat. Oil is fine but adding butter is a marriage made in heaven. Take care not to let them colour and burn – unlike onions this makes them bitter and unpalatable.
Leeks are made for a warming soup bowl. Use a slow-fried shredded leek as a base for your chosen soup in place of an onion, or go for the classic leek and potato. Try this recipe for leek and potato soup with cheese and herb scones.
Goes well with
Dairy (Cheese, Cream, Crème fraîche, Sour cream, Yogurt)
Herbs (Chives, Chervil, Mint, Parsley, Tarragon, Thyme)
Leek and tarragon crumble with butterbeans and wilted greens
Serves: 2 Total time: 45 min
Turkish poached sweet and sour leeks
Serves: 4 Total time: 25 min
Leek and smoked cheese macaroni
Serves: 1 Total time: 45 min
Bacon, leek and potato gratin
Serves: 4 Total time: 1h 25 min
Squashy bottom soup bowls with leeks and crouton dippers
Serves: 2 Total time: 1h
Leek, mascarpone and lemon gnocchi with walnut and parsley pesto
Serves: 2 Total time: 30 min
In the field
Meet the grower: Antony & Mary Coker, Rattery, Devon
The Cokers run Home Park Farm where Antony and Mary farm organic vegetables and sheep in a traditional mixed system.Read more