Somehow, the white parts of leeks have been granted preferred status over the green
parts. Perhaps the leathery look of the dark green leaves makes us assume they will
be tough and fibrous. Whatever the reason, the green parts are pretty much ignored
by both recipes and instruction materials.
At Vegetable a Month, we have been experimenting with the green parts in line with
our Waste Not-Want Not philosophy.
Much to our delight, we have found the green parts to be not only quite usable but
What’s more, given their dark green color, there’s a good chance they are also the
most nutritious part of the leek.
Putting them to good use is a great way to double your vegetable dollars since the
green parts can comprise as much as half to three quarters of a leek.
Finally, putting this valuable food stock to your benefit means it doesn’t end up
in landfills where it becomes a contributor to global warming.
So how do you cut, cook and use the green parts?
Delicious. . .
Nutritious. . .
Economical . . .
And kind to the earth
Love Your Greens
Got a pile of leek greens leftover from a recipe that called for “white parts only?”
There are lots of ways to use them:
It’s reasonable to assume that thick-skinned leek greens would require some heavy
duty cooking, but actually, the opposite is true. Greens seem to do best with brief
cooking at medium heats, although they can also hold their own in longer-cooking
casseroles and soups.
Frying Pan Method 1: Low Heat Saute Unlike a leek’s white parts, the greens can
withstand higher heats and a little browning, but they can quickly become over-browned
and charred if not watched closely. So when frying leek greens, the safest technique
lies between the low-heat sweating used for the white parts and the high-heat sauteing
used for most vegetables. The compromise method uses medium heat rather than medium-high
heat. The cooking time is fairly brief, just long enough to wilt the greens and
maybe brown them lightly, which can take as little as 5-7 minutes.
LOW-HEAT SAUTEED leek greens are just barely wilted and lightly browned. Be sure
to use a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan for best results.
Frying Pan Method 2: Stir Frying Surprisingly enough, leek greens can withstand
the high heat of stir-frying, as long as they are stirred almost constantly and cooked
only very briefly.
Long thin julienned leeks are a good cut for stir frying and frizzling.
Leeks need only be stir-fried a couple minutes. Monitor them closely and they will
be tender, but not as wilted as when they are LOW-HEAT SAUTEED.
Frying Pan Method 3: Frizzling Frizzling is another great way to cook leek greens.
Water Cooking Method 1: Simmering Simmering is another good way to bring out the
rich flavor of leek greens–as long as, again, the cooking time is very brief. The
greens need only 3-5 minutes to become lightly wilted and tender. Also keep the
amount of liquid small, between ½ and 1 cup.
For great flavor, simmer in a flavorful chicken or vegetable broth and remember to
salt and pepper. These simmered leeks were given a gourmet touch with a dollop of
More Cooking Methods Leek greens can easily and successfully be added to casseroles
and soups. Several of the recipes on the left above show how. Hopefully, we can
all keep experimenting and sharing even more great cooking methods for these forgotten
parts of the leek.
Water Cooking Method 2: Stock-Making At the very least, leek greens can be used
to make stock. In fact, some chefs believe they are key to a good stock.
Even if you do nothing else with them, at least throw the greens into your stock
pot. They add a lovely flavor to stocks.
Cutting the Green Parts
A leek’s green parts are not as tightly layered as the white part, so many of the
cuts described in the Prepping Section don’t work for the greens. However, since
the greens are generally long and flat, they do lend themselves well to cutting in
long strips and any cut derived therefrom, like matchsticks, julienned leeks, and
diced leeks of varying sizes.
Begin by slicing the greens in half lengthwise, right down the inside center crease
Stack 2-3 leaf halves together and cut into long strips, thin or wide.
Quick Ways with Leek Greens
Finely chopped and sauteed leek greens also make a good addition to scrambled eggs.