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Feature Articles  

What  are Leeks?

Meet a Not-Too-Famous Onion


Discovering What We Don’t Know About Leeks


Alien Encounters:

Drumming Up Inspiration for Strange-Sounding Vegetables


A Week of Leeks:

Get to know Leeks, 7 Easy Ways

In Every Issue

Why We Love It

Partners in Flavor and Season

Leek Season

Vegetable Boosters

Picky Eater Tips

Money Saving Tricks

News from the Farm

Cooking School

Cooking Classes:

White Fish and Leeks en Papillote    

Roasted Leeks and Butternut Squash Salad

Buying the Best

Storing for Flavor

Prepping Tricks & Tips

Cooking Basics

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes

13 Easy Recipes: Make

Leeks a Mid-Winter Favorite

What are leeks?  Meet the In-Laws
Discovering What We Don't Know About Leeks
Alien Encournters: Drumming Up Vegetable Inspiration
Recipe List for Leeks
Buying The Best
Storing For Flavor
Prepping Tricks & Tips
Cooking Basics
Why We Love It
Leek Vegetable Boosters
Picky Eater Tips
Money Saving Tricks
News From The Farm
In This Issue
White Fish Leeks en Papillote
Roasted Leek and Butternut Squash Salad

Cooking Leeks:  How to Cook the Green Parts  


© 2009 Culinary Concepts, Inc., Boulder CO

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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.  

So how do you cut, cook and use the green parts?  

Leek Greens

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:

Quick Potato, Leek and Tomato Lasagna  An easy weeknight dish that makes delicious use of even the tough outer greens  

More Recipes Using Leek Greens

Country Style Pork Ribs in Creamy Leek Sauce

Lamb Meatballs Braised with Fennel, Leek and Apple

Chicken (or Tofu) Medallions with Mustardy Leeks

Quick Thai Leek Soup

Glazed Parsnips and Leeks

Bacon, Leeks and Tomato Sandwiches

Curried Leeks and Walnuts

Cooking the Green Parts

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 sour cream.    

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.

Don’t mix the parts.  Use the white and light green parts separately from the leek greens, since they have different textures and cooking times and methods.


The Big Rule

For a quick alternative, simple slice whole greens crosswise for adding to soups and casseroles.    

Cut long strips crosswise for small diced leeks or longer matchsticks.       

Slice on the diagonal for a little fancier, but still easy cut.    

Quick Ways with Leek Greens