6 Recipes Starring Leeks, the Onion Family’s Most Versatile Member

Available year-round, leeks have a sweet, complex flavor that works well in a wide assortment of dishes. The versatile vegetable can be used as a mild alternative to onions, and its bold flavors allow it to take center stage in many recipes. When shopping for leeks, Martha Stewart advises looking for tops that are dark green and firm, not limp or dried out. In addition, bulb ends should have fringes of small crisp-looking roots still attached; avoid purchasing those that are split or soft. They also keep well for up to one week, so once you stroll the produce aisle and pick some up, you’ll have plenty of time to use them in these six recipes.

Source: iStock

1. Cream of Chicken and Leeks on Buttered Toast

Add some elegance to breakfast or brunch with Rachael Ray’s Cream of Chicken and Leeks on Buttered Toast, which yields 4 servings. Not only do leeks add great flavor, but they do so without adding too many calories to your meals. Livestrong states that at just 54 calories per cup, leeks add heartiness to your meals without significantly increasing their calorie count.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small pieces chicken breast (1¼ pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved, root kept intact
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few sprigs thyme and parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise ½-inch thick and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 4 slices good-quality white bread, toasted, lighly buttered and halved into triangles

Directions: Place the chicken in a deep skillet and season with salt. Add the carrot, celery, onion, lemon, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and just enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a low boil and poach the chicken for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred or slice. Strain the stock. Meanwhile, in another deep skillet, heat the butter and extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat.

Add the leeks and cook until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the flour and stir for a minutes. Add the wine and ladle in 1 cup of the chicken poaching stock. Stir in the cream for about 5 minutes to thicken. Stir in the tarragon and mustard. Add the chicken. Align the toast triangles on plates point to point, with the cut sides facing out. Top with the cream of chicken and leeks.

Source: iStock

2. Potato, Mushroom, and Leek Croquettes

Healthy ingredients are packed into Cooking Light’s Potato, Mushroom, and Leek Croquettes. With two patties containing just 266 calories, you’ll want this filling vegetarian dish frequenting your dinner table.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces coarsely chopped, peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped leek
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions: Place potato in a pan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Press potato through a ricer or food mill into a bowl. Place mushrooms, leek, and thyme in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add mushroom mixture; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mixture to potato. Add Gruyère, 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, pepper, and egg yolk.

Stir until blended. Shape mixture into 8 (2-inch) round patties. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine egg white and 2 teaspoons water in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-­Reggiano and panko in a shallow dish. Dredge patties in flour. Dip in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add patties; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden.

Source: iStock

3. Goat Cheese and Leek Quiche

Whole Foods Market’s Goat Cheese and Leek Quiche is an acceptable dish to eat any time of the day. Goat cheese adds a rich, creamy texture, while leeks provide you with ample nutrition. The Guardian notes that leeks are a great source of the flavonoid kaempferol, which helps reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, and protects your blood vessel linings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-inch) frozen pie crust, thawed 10 minutes
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or chives
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick crust all over with a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Set crust aside and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add leeks and simmer until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Drain leeks thoroughly. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, tarragon, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Spread leeks in bottom of crust and dot with goat cheese. Pour egg mixture over the top and bake until puffed in the center and lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Set aside to let cool until warm or serve at room temperature.

Source: iStock

4. Marinated Leeks with Herbs

With its simple preparation and great flavor, Saveur’s Marinated Leeks with Herbs will quickly become one of your regular go-to’s. The recipe yields 4 servings. BBC Good Food explains that it is important to thoroughly wash your leeks before cooking them, as soil often becomes trapped between their layers of leaves. To begin, trim the base, cutting away the uppermost part of the leaves. Rinse well under running water, pulling the layers back as you do to ensure all of the dirt is removed.

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium leeks, trimmed of tough green parts
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 7 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

Directions: Starting about 1-inch above root end, slice leeks lengthwise, but not all the way through. Open leeks like a book and wash well in cold running water to remove all sand and dirt. Bring a 12-inch deep-sided skillet of salted water to a boil, add leeks, and cook over medium heat until soft but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Transfer leeks to a large bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. Carefully split leeks completely in half lengthwise, and transfer to a rack, cut side down, to drain thoroughly.

Whisk vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly, until vinaigrette is smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings and set aside. Remove leaves from 4 of the parsley sprigs, chop leaves, and set aside. Divide leek halves equally among 4 warm salad plates. Drizzle vinaigrette over leeks, and sprinkle with chopped parsley and egg. Garnish each plate with a sprig of parsley.

Source: iStock

5. Pan-Roasted Chicken With Leeks

Leek’s flavors come alive when paired with roasted chicken and bacon. Food Network’s recipe is a nutritious dinner option, containing 418 calories, 24 grams of fat, 34 grams of protein, and 322 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet and cook over medium-high heat until some of the fat renders, about 5 minutes. Push the bacon to the side of the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add it to the pan and cook, turning, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and leeks, then arrange the chicken on top of the bacon-leek mixture. Transfer to the oven and roast until the chicken is golden and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Carefully return the skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth and half-and-half and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon the leek mixture over the chicken. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

Source: iStock

6. Potato Leek Soup

Heavy cream and potatoes are responsible for the creamy textures in Once Upon A Chef’s soup, while leeks, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, and chives ensure it’s filled with rich flavors. There are many ways to put a personal spin on your Potato Leek Soup. You can add watercress, serve it chilled, or even top it with bacon, fried leeks, fresh herbs, or any vegetables you have on hand. The recipe yields six servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Chives, finely chopped, optional

Directions: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary so as not to brown. Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.

Fish out the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: