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
Picky Eater Tips
Money Saving Tricks
News from the Farm
White Fish and Leeks en Papillote
Roasted Leeks and Butternut Squash Salad
Buying the Best
Storing for Flavor
Prepping Tricks & Tips
Recipes, Recipes, Recipes
13 Easy Recipes: Make
Leeks a Mid-Winter Favorite
Step 3: Cutting
<<In the Kitchen: Prepping Tips
3-Step Leek Prep:Separating,Washing,Cutting
Standard Prepping Protocol Typically, recipes calling for leeks specify "white parts
only.” This is usually read to mean, "toss the green parts." Following this approach
makes it easy to prep a leek: simply slice off the roots and green top and pitch
them. The white part left behind will be ready for cutting as directed in your recipe.
Step 1: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
Before cutting a leek, there should be clarity about exactly what is being cut off.
This is tricky with a leek, since there are differing opinions about which parts
should go and which should stay.
Do you peel it?
Eat the tops or toss them?
Leaf Ends and Outer Leaves In grocery stores, these parts are generally removed,
so you may never see them, as in the leek to the right. However, at farmers’ markets
these parts are usually still attached as in the leek to the left. If so, any ends
and outer leaves that aren’t decayed or completely withered are good for stock making.
Step 2: Washing
Farmer’s Market Leeks with long, thin, floppy ends and tough outer leaves still attached.
If they aren’t decayed or completely withered, they can go in the stock pot.
Leek Greens Leek greens are usually pitched in the kitchen–a pocketbook travesty.
They are quite suitable for a number of dishes (see the list below), even if they
aren’t quite as tender and can’t be used in the same ways as the white parts.
Light Green and White Parts or “White Bottoms.”These are the parts of a leek called
for in most recipes. While the thick white bottom is readily observable, the light
green parts are shrouded inside the leek greens and only become visible when the
leek is halved, as shown below.
The Standard Prepping Protocol: Roots and green tops are sliced off and pitched,
leaving just the white bottom.
Mary’s Waste-Not, Want-Not Approach While the Standard Protocol may be an easy way
to prep a leek, a lot of edible vegetable is lost. Compare it to Mary’s Waste-Not,
Want-Not Approach, which views everything but the leek’s root as usable:
Loving Leek Greens:
Free Vegetables !
For years I dutifully pitched my leek greens, just like the recipes told me to do.
Eventually, I began sneaking them into the stock pot, at least getting some use
out of them. Creating this month’s recipes, however, I became even more daring,
using them as full-fledged vegetables.
Root EndsThis is really the only part of a leek that must be pitched–along with
any other decayed parts. .
Viewing most of a leek as usable leads to a more prepping method that takes a couple
extra minutes, but doubles your vegetable dollars.
Slice off root end (just about 1/4"; discard to compost.)
Cut leek in half vertically(as shown to the right.)
Wash as directed in Step 2,(It’s easier to wash while the halves are intact.)
Strip or cut away decayed, yellowed, browned, bruised or slimy leaves and stem ends.
Discard to compost. (The older the leek, the more likely there will be slimy ends
and/or a layer or two that needs to be cut off or stripped away.)
Cut leek greens from light green parts at an angle. (This divides leeks into two
halves: 1) the white bottom with attached light green parts and 2) the leek greens.)
Use white bottom and attached light green parts as directed in recipes calling
for “white parts only.”
Use leek greens as directed in recipes for “leek greens.” (See the suggestions to
Prepping Leeks the Money-Saving, Waste-Not, Want-Not Way