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Leeks are a relative of onions, and sometimes I use them in exchange for onions. Other times some recipes are just better with leeks. Stick to the whitest parts of the leek, though. The green leaves of the leek are edible, but they are tough. Stick to using them for flavoring dishes.  

QUICK IDEAS: chop and put on a salad or in salad dressing; use the leaves to make your own vegetable stock; slice them into your morning breakfast fry-up

Slow-Cooked Leeks w/Thyme & Cream: serves 4
from Ruffage

neutral oil
10 sprigs thyme
4 leeks, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise with the core intact, cleaned well
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, peel cut into wide slices with a vegetable peeler
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
several grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup cream

1) Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, heat a glug (2 tbsp) of neutral oil. Briefly fry the thyme in the oil, then push to the side.
2) Pat the leeks dry and sear them, cut-side down, letting them brown lightly. This may need to be done in batches to ensure even contact between the leeks and frying pan. Flip to the round side. Add the wine and allow to reduce by half.
3) Add the lemon rind, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
4) Cover and braise in the oven until the leeks are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the cream, and bring to a boil on a burner until the cream is reduced to the texture of creamed spinach, 3-5 minutes. Remove the lemon peel and thyme, and serve hot or warm.

Oven Braised Leeks: Serves 4 
from Recipes from the Root Cellar

8 small leeks, trimmed, tender white and pale green parts only
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2) Brush the leeks with the oil and arrange in a single layer in 
the prepared dish. 
3) Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally for
 even cooking. Add the broth, return to the oven, and braise for 
10 minutes.
4) Transfer the leeks and their cooking liquid to a serving platter
 and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
5) Serve at once or at room temperature.

Winter Pasta: Serves 4 - 6

4 medium sized leeks
1 small bunch of kale - 1/2 lb, stalks removed, washed well
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice - optional
12 oz dried penne pasta
fresh thyme - and thyme flowers

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don't overcook. Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. 
 *I like to just throw the raw ingredients into a food processor, but potentially cooking them first, as described    above, works better!
2) Use a food processor to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste. Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you're happy with it the sauce. Set aside.
3) Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme, and more crumbled goat cheese.

Leek, Swiss Chard and Feta​ Fritatta: serves 4-6
From Dishing Up The Dirt

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 small bunch of swiss chard, (can substitute spinach or kale) stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese
salt and pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 375F. 
2) Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 8 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to soften and become fragrant, about 3 minutes. 
3) Stir in the chopped chard leaves and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leaves begin to wilt, about 3 minutes.
4) While the veggies cook whisk together the eggs, cream, spices and 1/4 cup of the feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
5) Remove the veggies from the pan and stir them into the egg mixture until everything is well combined. Wipe out the skillet with a towel and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. 
6) Pour the egg/veggie mixture into the pan and sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese. Cook over medium-low until the edges begin to firm, about 8-10 minutes.
7) Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking, about 10 minutes more, until the eggs are set and golden brown at the edges. Remove the frittata from the oven and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes before enjoying.

Creamy Leek, Potato, and Sour Cream Soup: Serves 6 
from Asparagus to Zucchini

3 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 leeks, thinly sliced, tender white and pale green parts only
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced 
4 cups chicken stock
½ to 1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and pepper

1) Melt butter in pot over medium-low flame. Add leeks and tarragon; cover and cook slowly, 15 to 20 minutes.
2) Add potatoes and stock; bring to simmer, cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Puree mixture.
3) Return puree to pot; stir in sour cream and 2 tablespoons chives.
4) Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with additional chives.

Orecchiette Carbonara with Leeks: Serves 4 
from Bon Appetit, 2008

4 bacon slices, diced
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only) halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/3 inch pieces.
10 ounces orecchiette (little ear shaped pasta) or small shells
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsely

1) Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp.
2) Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from skillet (if necessary). Add leeks and saute over medium heat until tender, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
3) Meanwhile cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
4) Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
5) Whisk eggs and 1/2 cup parmesan in medium bowl to blend; gradually whisk in 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid set aside from before.
6) Add pasta to leeks in skillet and stir to heat. Remove skillet from heat. Pour egg mixture over pasta and stir until sauce is just creamy and egga are no longer raw, about 2 minutes. (Return skillet to heat if eggs are still runny; do not over cook or eggs will curdle)
7) Add some of the remaining 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to pasta if needed to moisten. Stir in bacon and parsley. Serve pasta adding additional cheese separately. 

Scalloped Potato Leek Gratin: Serves 6 - 8 
from Savory Sweet Life

2 large leeks (or smaller leeks of equal volume), trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons salted butter
salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (we use whole milk)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 lbs yukon gold or russet potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick with the skins still on
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1) Preheat oven 375. Grease a medium casserole dish (I use butter or oil to do this)
2) Wash the leeks, removing any grit. Thinly slice leeks crosswise.
3) In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 pepper.
4) Cook leeks until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer leeks to a glass bowl. Add the cream, garlic, nutmeg, and thyme to the skillet and cook over medium heat.
5) Cook the cream mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
6) Layer potato slices in an overlapping pattern in the casserole dish, seasoning potatoe with a little salt and pepper. Scatter the leeks over the potatoes and cover with a third of the cream sauce and then a third of the cheese. 
7) Repeat the layers of potatoes, sauce, and cheese two more times. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden.
**If you double the recipe make sure to double the cooking time if you put it all in the oven at once.