Tasty leek recipes?
February 20, 2005 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I've just bought some leeks, and am looking for some tasty leek-oriented recipes. Any suggestions?
posted by Dr. Wu to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Potato-leek soup is a classic. I don't have any specific recipe off the top of my head, but if you google the term, I'm sure you'll come up with lots of reasonable ones.
posted by LairBob at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2005

Pasta with leek and smoked salmon is one of my favourite recipes, and it's easy and quick.

For two as a main course: Cut two leeks into 5 cm (1-2 inch) long pieces and then cut them lenghtwise so you get narrow stripes of leek. Sauté them in a pan at medium heat and add almost a cup or so of cream when the leek stripes are soft. Cut about 150-200 g (3.5-5 oz) of smoked salmon into cubes (the shape doesn't matter much, as the salmon will fall apart anyway) and add it to the pan when the leeks are done. Add white pepper to taste. (Salt is not necessary because the smoked salmon is quite salty.)

Meanwhile, cook about 250 g (half a pound) of tagliatelle or vermicelli al dente. Mix everything together in a big bowl when the pasta is done and serve immediately. Buon appetito!
posted by amf at 11:28 AM on February 20, 2005

Leek and pancetta risotto.

Beef/lamb with leeks stir-fry. Lots of pepper; hot is good.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:33 AM on February 20, 2005

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
posted by obloquy at 11:42 AM on February 20, 2005

Grilled leeks are good too, but it's not exactly the season for it (OTOH I find winter barbecues in the snow are a lot of fun).
posted by kenko at 11:43 AM on February 20, 2005

Sauté sliced leeks and (thinly) sliced carrots in some olive oil or butter. S & P to taste. Delicious simplicity.
posted by Utilitaritron at 12:10 PM on February 20, 2005

Leek vinaigrette. Split them lengthwise, the tie back together with rubber bands. Boil gently for a couple minutes. Let cool, top with a mustargy vinaigrette.
posted by mkultra at 12:12 PM on February 20, 2005

I'll second kenko's recommendation. Drench them with some olive oil and yummy herbs and garlic for a couple hours prior to grilling and you've got a lovely treat. One of my favorites.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:13 PM on February 20, 2005

Potato-leek soup, mmm-mmm. Here's one quick way. Wash the leeks, then remove the roots, top parts of the leaves, and any skanky/slimey bits. Finely chop them, then wash/rinse them thoroughly several times (to get rid of the mud). Fry them in olive oil in a covered pan for a while to 'sweat' them, until they start to smell sweet. You can use a med-high heat, just remember to stir them every now and then to stop them sticking and burning. Once they are reduced and sweet smelling, add some finely chopped garlic (to taste) and fry for another minute or two. Then add enough water to cover them to a soup-like consistency. Start seasoning with good quality vegetable bouillon, salt, pepper, Worcester sauce.

In a second pan fry the same amount of finely chopped carrots and potatoes as you have leeks. When cooked - i.e the carrots and potatoes are getting soft and just a little browned, dump them into the pan with the leaks and water. Add more water to cover everything. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, then blend with a hand blender.

Then you can either simmer more, or serve, or leave to cool/store. It takes me about 45 minutes, if I'm quick I can do this in the morning before work, and affter the blending switch off the stove and cover the pot, and it tastes just great when I get home in the evening.
posted by carter at 12:18 PM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

Leeks are one of the most amazing vegetables in the universe. My favorites are the Leek and Green Garlic risotto from Deborah Madison, and Leeks in anchovy butter.

For the latter, use 2 leeks, cut off the leeks' green flourish right where the white transitions into green, remove the papery outer layer, clean the leeks thoroughly, and slice into strips. Boil on a medium low flame for 6-8 minutes or until tender and sweet. Drain and cover in ice water. For the anchovy sauce, melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 10+ cloves garlic (sliced or whole, your preference) until tender and yummy. Add 2 cans (about 24 anchovies), oil-packed anchovies (Spanish are the best) and oil and cook until dissolved. Season with pepper and keep warm.

To serve, place a small pile of the leeks in a bowl, and drizzle the anchovy butter over to taste. For those of you who hate anchovies, when cooked in a sauce anchovies are not fishy at all, they are just salty with a little meaty body.
posted by scazza at 12:45 PM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]

You really want to wash them thoroughly, because they can be VERY sandy, and the sand can really get in there.

I'll ask my girlfriend for the recipe for her amazing potato-leek-sour cream soup.
posted by Vidiot at 12:49 PM on February 20, 2005

What Vidiot said, but not just because they can be sandy. Leeks & scallions are some of the foods most prone to food borne illness. They're fine with a good washing & cooking though. Happy eating!
posted by spaghetti at 2:21 PM on February 20, 2005

Leek and zucchini soup. One of the Moosewood cookbooks has a great recipe, with cream and tarragon. They're also good together in a tomato-based broth - either way, the two vegetables have a certain affinity.
posted by zadcat at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2005

Oh, if you do grill leeks, a good way to do it is to cut them in half lengthwise and stick toothpicks that have been soaked in water through them at strategic intervals so they don't fall apart.
posted by kenko at 3:02 PM on February 20, 2005

Leek and chickpea soup. Slice leeks into thick rings, soften (don't brown) in a little butter and olive oil with a couple of springs of fresh thyme and a bay leaf. Add canned chickpeas, cover with chicken stock, simmer a few minutes. Stir through fresh parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a chunk of crusty, chewy bread. Sometimes I add a little freshly grated parmesan or a touch of harissa. Quick, earthy, warming, filling.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:10 PM on February 20, 2005

They just ran a yummy looking recipe in the food section of the washington post this week ... Chicken, Leek and Parsley Pie (reg req)

Chicken, Leek and Parsley Pie
6 servings

For the pastry:

7/8 cup (14 tablespoons) slightly cold unsalted butter, diced
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for work surface
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cold water

For the filling:

3 poached chicken breasts, bone-in, or 6 to 8 individually quick frozen boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins that have been poached
4 tablespoons butter
2 leeks (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard (may substitute dijon-style)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Beaten egg, to glaze

For the pastry: In a food processor, blend together butter and egg yolks until creamy. Add the flour and salt and pulse until the mixture just comes together. With the motor running, add the water and process until the dough forms a ball. Flatten the dough. wrap in plastic, and chill for at least an hour and up to 1 day ahead. The dough patches together easily if you have any breaks.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece on a lightly floured surface so it will line the bottom and sides of an 8 1/2-inch-square glass baking dish. (I prefer to use glass so you can check the progress of the pastry sides and bottom during baking.) Prick the base with a fork and bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

For the filling: Debone the chicken breasts, discard the skin and pull apart the meat into large strips, doing the last step if you're using tenderloins. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over low heat, melt the butter and add the leeks, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and parsley just to combine. Remove from the heat.

Spread half of the leek mixture over the baked pastry. Cover with chicken, then top with the remaining leek mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, cornstarch and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the filling.

Moisten the top of the cooked pastry's exposed edges with beaten egg. Roll out the remaining pastry and use to cover the pie. Brush top with beaten egg and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Per serving (based on 6): 919 calories, 40 gm protein, 47 gm carbohydrates, 64 gm fat, 320 mg cholesterol, 38 gm saturated fat, 372 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

posted by crunchland at 3:27 PM on February 20, 2005


The classic. Simpler than Carter's too (why fry the potatoes separately when you are going to boil them anyway?)

Sweat well cleaned sliced whites of the leeks in butter, on low heat, with salt and white pepper. DO NOT BROWN. Pour in chicken stock, add potatoes. Boil until the potatoes are soft, then puree. (The hand blenders are great for this. You might even sieve it to make sure you got a smooth puree.) Chill. Before serving either chilled or at room temp, swirl in some cream. Heaven in a bowl.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:51 PM on February 20, 2005

(why fry the potatoes separately when you are going to boil them anyway?)

Flavor? Roasting vegetables/meat before making a stock changes the flavor, even though you just end up simmering it anyway. Something similar could easily be operative here.
posted by kenko at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2005

Sauteed leeks with Polenta.
It's my favorite.

Sautee the leeks in olive oil until soft.
Once they are soft add four cups of water and bring to a boil. Throw in a bullion cube.
Measure out one and a half cups of polenta (corn meal, preferably coarse, but whatever you've got) and mix a cup of water with it so that when you add it to the boiling water it will not get lumpy.
Add the polenta to the boiling water and drop the heat to a simmer stirring constantly. Watch out for exploding bubbles of boiling polenta that can splatter all over you. Cook about ten minutes. It will thicken up as you stir. It's good warm, but it's also great cold.
posted by princelyfox at 4:36 PM on February 20, 2005

I love this Mostaciolli with Fennel and Bread Crumbs recipe but with leeks instead of fennel.
posted by evening at 5:04 PM on February 20, 2005

(why fry the potatoes separately when you are going to boil them anyway?)

The simple answer is kenko's. The longer answer comes from one of the best instructional cooking textbooks I've ever read--basically, "excellent cooking is the successive applications of different types of heat, over time, to the best possible ingredients".

One of the simplest, most important cooking techniques to understand is that--in a really tasty dish--most of the ingredients have been cooked in at least two or three different types of heat before the final stage. Whether it's browning meat before you braise it, or blanching vegetables before you roast them, you can make a huge improvement in the final dish by bothering to do something like browning potatoes before you cook them in a soup. Each step lends a very specific and distinct element to the final dish, and that's often the difference between a pretty good dish and an excellent one.
posted by LairBob at 5:15 PM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: These are great answers - thanks, everyone. So much to choose from! Yay!
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:17 PM on February 20, 2005

I don't have a recipe, but I bet you could adapt an onion tart to use leeks. (In fact, having decided to check my facts before posting nonsense to US^H^HAskMe, I see a leek tart recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Email me for recipe, if you want, as I don't want to just copy it out of the book onto the site.)
posted by kenko at 5:23 PM on February 20, 2005

Yup I fry stuff beforehand because it changes the taste of the final dish. I can't describe exactly how, just that it does.
posted by carter at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2005

Mushroom Leek Tartlets

Saute thinly sliced leeks with sliced shitake mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Cool the mixture and toss with shredded white cheddar (smoked gouda will work well too). Defrost frozen puff pastry dough (Pepperidge Farm), roll out to 1/8" thick, and press out rounds with a biscuit cutter. Mound the leek/mushroom/cheese mixture in the center of each round and bake on parchment in a 400 F oven til browned. Yummy as an hors d'oeuvre or appetizer.
posted by madandal at 7:02 PM on February 20, 2005

The reason that frying stuff, specifically, changes the taste is called the Maillard Reaction--named after the first guy to explore how browning food affects the nature of its taste and texture.

Basically, browning something like potatoes converts and caramelizes some of the proteins and starches in them, creating a whole new set of flavors that weren't there beforehand. You can easily see this when you brown something basically bitter like onions or garlic, and they actually turn sweet. Also, whenever you apply a basically dry heat, like pan-frying, you're dehydrating the ingredients, and concentrating the flavors at the same time you're changing them.

By the time you add browned potatoes to a dish, you've got many, many more different components going on, and it will definitely make a difference in the final taste. Basically, think of it this way--would you just eat raw potatoes? Wouldn't you rather eat pan-fried potatoes? Why wouldn't you expect frying potatoes to make the same difference in a soup?
posted by LairBob at 7:13 PM on February 20, 2005

[OK, I'll stop saying "basically" now...]
posted by LairBob at 7:14 PM on February 20, 2005

Potato, Leek and Lemon Soup

broth or water
1 lb leeks
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced (optional)
1 lemon
1/2 cup creme
salt, pepper
chives to garnish

1. trim leeks by cutting off the green top. Cut crosswise to rinse better, and cut into slices 1/2 inch thick.
2. melt butter, add leek and sautee until wilted (3-5 minutes)
3. add potatoes and carrots, add enough broth/water to cover veggies. After bringing to a boil reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes (or until potatoes are soft when pierced by a fork, not a knife)
4. using a ladle and working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or a food mill.
5. return soup puree to pan, season with salt and pepper, add enough broth/water to desired consistency. When it's nicely simmering, add the creme. Taste and adjust seasoning.
6. cut lemon in half. Make a few lemon slices. (1 per bowl)
Squeeze half a lemon into soup. Taste.
7. ladle soup into warmed bowls. Put a lemon slice on each bowl. Using scissors, cut chives on top of the lemon.
posted by ruelle at 11:45 PM on February 20, 2005

Response by poster: I followed carter's leek soup receipe and it was lovely. (Oh, and I added a bit of milk to make it richer.)
I will be buying more leeks and trying out some of these other recipes.
Muchas gracias!
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:38 AM on February 21, 2005

Glad you liked it, Dr. Wu! The milk is a good touch too - I often cook vegan, and forgot to mention the dairy side of things.
posted by carter at 10:06 AM on February 21, 2005

One of the quickest ways I cook leeks, and truly one of the best tasting:

Split leeks in half length wise and place face down in a dish single-layer so there is no extra space. Pour in lots of heavy cream so most of the leeks are covered. Salt and pepper. Bake at 350-400 until done. Enjoy. You can substitute the cream with chicken stock and grated cheese on top for a different kind of dish.
posted by stbalbach at 10:07 AM on February 21, 2005

Oh, guys, I know all about the Maillard reaction, but I just thought it seemed to be an utterly superfluous step when making potato soup, not to mention making it muddy looking. I guess I'll try it myself and see if I'm wrong.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:19 AM on February 22, 2005

Alton Brown did a great Good Eats on leeks not long ago (or at least I saw it on the Food Network last night; he might have done it a while ago). The recipes will be on their website. He made roasted leeks, leek rings (like onion rings, but with leeks), and vichyssoise.

BTW, there is often a good reason to cook your vegetables separately, but I don't think cooking the potatoes separately in leek-potato soup will make any difference. Cooking the carrots separately might, but carrots in vichyssoise are an abomination to start with.
posted by anapestic at 1:07 PM on March 3, 2005

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