How to Cook Leeks

The leek is such an underrated vegetable compared to its other more glorified family members such as the onion, garlic, shallot and chives. It deserves better somehow, it really has such a wonderfully mild and sweet flavour compared to a standard onion. Yes, there is more to this ‘allium’ than just leek soup! You can grill them and even better on a barbeque for a fuller flavour and for a wonderful looking result.

As the leek has a milder taste, it is really worth cooking on its own as a side dish, but it is wasted if used in a very spicy dish. Look out at your local market this autumn for the best-tasting and freshest leeks. Here below is our simple to follow guide to preparing and cooking leeks.

The Best Way to Chop Leeks

This method is for the general preparation of leeks for risotto, soups and even pasta dishes. So here is the easiest method for chopping leeks.

The first thing is to cut the leeks in half all the way lengthwise. After this, it is good to top and tail by cutting off any dry or stringy root end and cutting as far as the green is still tender and not tough.

One great tip here is that the greener tougher top of the leek can be kept to make a delicious stock and reduces this complete waste of flavour. If you have no time for this right now, then you can always freeze this for later.

The next step is to chop the two lengths into thin half-circle slices. If you discover any dirt or soil inside the leek, then push all the content in a large colander and rinse until you have removed any of this natural debris from the growing process. Please give them a good rinse in cold water and then pat dry with a cloth or paper towel. This is all very easy and you are now ready to cook your fresh leeks.

Cooking the Perfect Leek!

So far, we have prepared our leeks by chopping them, rinsing in cold water and blotting them dry for better cooking at higher temperatures. Some of the best ways to release all the sweet and savoury flavours of leeks is by oven roasting, grilling and frying in butter. The trick to the perfect leek is to chop them according to the cooking method. If you are roasting them in the oven, then we would recommend that the leeks are cut a little chunkier than compared to when frying or sautéing.

Roasting Leeks

Roasting is always a great way to cook leeks but just make sure to prepare them correctly. First of all, you’ll need a good quality roasting dish. This can be either the classic stainless steel variety or a ceramic dish. Then you’ll need to chop them as we recommended into generous 1-inch slices, season well and then toss the leeks in olive oil. In a conventional oven, we’d suggest you roast them for about 20 mins at between 180-200 Degrees C.

Sautéing or Grilling

If you are sautéing or frying the leeks, then a finer cut will allow for a shorter cooking time. Place the finely chopped leeks in a large non-stick pan or skillet, add a generous glug of olive oil and cook down until they are nice and tender. For added richness, some chefs like to cook leeks in a quality butter as this produces a very lovely luxurious taste.

To grill in an oven, all you need to do is to cut the leek lengthwise, place it on a baking sheet or non-stick surface, season well and drizzle with olive oil. The recommended setting would be a medium hot temperature and grill until they are a little charred on the outside and tender on the inside. Of course, don’t forget that during the barbeque season, just cut them up, season and you’ll be in for a real treat!

In Addition to Leek and Potato Soup…

Yes, there is an entire culinary universe outside the perennial classic of leek and potato soup. Why not try leeks in a risotto, on top of a quiche or in a classic Italian pasta dish!