You may be asking yourself right about now: 1) "What is a leek, anyway?" and 2) "Don't you just clean them like any other vegetable?" I am here to answer both questions!
A leek is part of the Amaryllidaceae family and Allioideae subfamily (if you want to get all biological about it), but the simple explanation is that it's a vegetable related to garlic, onion, shallots and scallions. It has a mild onion flavor, but tastes a little fresher, more like a scallion. It's often used in cooking stocks and soups (like my Potage Crécy), but can be used in quiches and salads as well. If you haven't tried a leek, take a test run next time you need an onion!
Leeks, however, can be very dirty and sandy between its layers because of the way it's grown, so you have to do a special cleaning. Below is how I clean a leek. It's quick and easy and is guaranteed to get all of that dirt off of your vegetable!
First, you'll want to trim away the root end and the dark green layers, leaving only the whites and the light green parts. (Many people say that the dark green layers are bitter, but I save and use them for making chicken and beef stock and haven't really noticed.)
Next, you'll want to cut the leek in half lengthwise. You could leave the leek whole at this point if you wanted perfect rings, but it's definitely easier to cut if you halve it.
Slice your leek. I usually slice them into about 1/4" pieces, but feel free to slice them as thick as you'd like, depending on your recipe.
And finally, place them in a large bowl of cold water. Swish them around a bit with your fingers to loosen up the soil. Let them sit for a few minutes. Carefully remove them to a paper towel to drain. All of that dirt and soil should be left behind in the bottom of the bowl!
And now your leeks are clean and ready to go! What is your favorite recipe with leeks?
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