How to prepare leeks

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Recipes by Karen Gros | 0 comments

How to prepare leeks

Leeks can be considered as all-purpose as onions, though few people use them as such.  I use them often when they’re in season, which is right about now (mid- to late-Fall) in Arkansas.  

They are delicious sautéed, along with other in-season vegetables, but my two favorite ways to eat leeks are the French recipes leeks vinaigrette and leek confit. (recipes below)

The most important thing in preparing leeks is proper cleaning; since leeks grow into the soil, they retain a lot of dirt in their layers and leaves.

How to prep leeks:

1.  Slice off the roots, and cut off the dark green portion with scissors (reserve for homemade chicken stock).
2.  Halve leek lengthwise, and wash each leaf inside and out under cool running water, rubbing the soil out with your fingers.


leeks_howtocutHalve leeks lengthwise right through the “V” to facilitate cleaning.

Leeks vinaigrette  (poireaux vinaigrette)

This recipe is best prepared with the white part only (and a touch of pale green)


8 small to medium-sized leeks
1 cup Dijon vinaigrette
½  cup fresh fines herbs, finely chopped (use any combination below herbs depending on availability)
Garnish:  1 hard-boiled egg

Fines Herbes
Equal parts of:  parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives and cilantro

1 ½ t. Dijon mustard

¼ t. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup white wine or apple cider vinegar
¾ c. mild flavored extra virgin first-cold pressed olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
½ c. fines herbes, washed and finely chopped

Remove dark green portion of leaves (reserve for making homemade stock), keeping only the white and pale green portion.  Steam leeks until tender, about 15 minutes.  Make the vinaigrette:  Whisk the mustard, salt, and pepper together with the vinegar; whisk in the oil, and add the garlic and herbs.  Place warm leeks in a serving dish and cover with vinaigrette; leave to marinate and cool.  Best served at room temperature.


leeks_roundsSometimes you may wish to use whole rounds of sliced leeks;
in which case you would not want to slice the entire leek lengthwise.  

For this method, I wash the outer leek, and slice whole rounds from the bottom up to the point
where the leaves split and soil resides.

leeks_soilAt this point, you will need to open up the leaves and wash them thoroughly under running water.

Slowly baked leeks  (poireaux confits)

This dish brings out the flavor of the leeks, as they are slowly cooked in butter and olive oil.  The leeks can be prepared a few hours ahead of time and gently reheated prior to serving, or eaten room temperature.

Serves 8, as a starter or side dish


4 large leeks, pale green and white parts only
4 T. unsalted butter, chilled, plus more for pan
1/4 c. mild flavored extra virgin first-cold pressed olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cut off the root end, and trim off the dark green outer leaves with scissors.  Halve the leeks lengthwise, and wash both sides of each leaf well under cool running water, rubbing the soil out with your fingers if necessary.  Set aside to drain.

2.  Butter tart pan or baking dish.  Slice leeks crosswise into ½-inch pieces.  Place in a large bowl and toss leeks with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place leeks into the buttered baking dish, and place slices of the butter evenly over the leeks.

3.  Bake for 20 minutes, stir well; bake another 20 minutes.  Turn oven off and allow leeks to remain in the oven for 20 minutes.

leeks_to roastSlowly baked leeks or leek confit prepared with whole and half rounds, prior to baking