How to Cut a Leek
A leek is a beautiful and versatile vegetable. It can be cut into circles or half-moons and used in recipes like Ham & Leek Quiche and Potato Leek Gratin.
The trick to working with this delicate vegetable is knowing how to cut it properly. It’s also important to understand that leeks hold on to a lot of dirt in their layers, so they need to be cleaned thoroughly.
Like the other members of the allium family (such as onions and scallions), leeks have a bulbous base and a long green part. The parts that are eaten are the white and light green sections, while the tough dark green tops are discarded. The leek is milder in flavor than onions and has a little bit of garlicky kick to it as well.
To trim a leek, start by looking for the rounded end that is closest to the root. This is usually a bit darker than the rest of the leek and will have a little bit of grit in it. Cut off this end with a chef’s knife.
Next, use your knife to peel back the leaves until you reach the whitish and light green portion of the leek. You will probably find a few thin, stringy layers that you can discard. Depending on the recipe you are using, you may want to do a rough chop at this point. For soups that are going to be pureed, such as Potato Leek Soup, this will give the soup a nice texture and a bit of crunch.
If you are making a salad or a vegetable side dish, you will want to cut the leek into sticks that are about 1 inch wide. To do this, position the leek on your cutting board with the flat side down and the rounded side facing up. Then use your knife to cut the leek into 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) lengthwise strips or wider if desired.
You can also cut the leek into ‘half moons’ by cutting it in half. This is the most common way to prepare it for salads and other mixed dishes. If you choose to cut it into ‘half moons’, then you will need to trim the fibrous green portions off.
After you’ve trimmed the leeks, place them in a bowl of cold water and swish them around with your hands. This will agitate them and allow any dirt or grit to fall off and settle at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse the leeks thoroughly and then either dry them on paper towels or place them in a colander that is lined with a clean, lint-free towel.
Leeks are a versatile vegetable that can be used in both raw and cooked dishes. They have a mild onion-taste and are delicious both sauteed and roasted. They can be cut into circles or half-moons, as well as thin strips and diced. In addition to adding flavor and texture to dishes, leeks are high in nutrients and minerals, including vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
When you’re ready to start cooking with leeks, it’s important to trim them first so they don’t have tough, stringy ends. This can be done by cutting off the bottom root end and any dark green leafy parts that are growing out of the top (you can save these for vegetable stock). Then you can rinse the leeks under cool water to remove any remaining dirt or grit.
The main problem with preparing leeks is that they tend to have lots of layers and leaves, which can trap a lot of dirt and grit between them. The easiest way to get rid of this is to use a bowl of water and let the leeks soak in it for a few minutes. Then you can drain them, and they’ll be much easier to rinse clean before using in recipes.
If you’re planning to make a salad or soup, you can skip the soaking step and simply rinse your leeks. However, if you’re going to be chopping them into smaller pieces or making a more involved dish, a quick soaking will make your life a lot easier by getting all of the dirt out of between the leeks’ layers and leaves.
Start by positioning the leek on the cutting board with the flat bottom down and the rounded side up. Then position your knife at the point where the leek becomes narrower – about halfway up the length of the leek. With your non-dominant hand, press down on the leek to keep it in place and carefully slice it into thin strips. Then you can either transfer the leeks to a bowl of clean water to soak for a few minutes or simply rinse them under cool running water until they’re completely clean.
Like many members of the onion and garlic family, leeks are hardworking vegetables that can be used in a variety of ways – raw in salads, diced for soups and stews, or sliced and sauteed on their own. But because they have a lot of layers that naturally separate as you cut them, it’s easy for dirt to get trapped in those crevices, so washing is an essential step before cooking with them.
To do this, simply cut the leek in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly under cool water, fanning the layers apart to release dirt and grit as you go. You can also submerge the leeks in a bowl of cold water and swish them around if you’re short on time. Once they’re clean, simply drain and transfer them to a colander.
Once the leeks are dry, they can be used in your recipes as directed. But if you’re going to cook them, first pat them dry with paper towels or a clean lint-free towel to speed up the process and ensure they’ll be cooked evenly. This is especially important if you plan to roast them, as the moisture will inhibit caramelization.
Another great trick for getting the most flavor out of your leeks is to trim off the tough, fibrous dark green tops if they’re present. This may seem like a waste, but don’t throw them away – they make for excellent homemade stock. Just be sure to do this before frying or sauteing them, as the hot oil can quickly turn them limp and soggy. You can either discard them or use them in your recipe as a garnish, adding them to your finished dish for extra flavor and texture.
Like its hardworking onion and garlic cousins, the leek brings a lot to the table, whether it’s chopped into salads or cooked in soups and stews. But it’s easy to overlook this long, green veggie that looks a bit like a giant scallion. That’s a shame, since the vegetable’s delicate flavors aren’t usually overpowered by its more robust relatives. Leeks have an incredibly mild taste and are rich in minerals, including calcium and iron.
First, trim the stringy roots from the bottom of each leek. Then, cut off the dark green leafy end from the leek (if you keep a bag of these trimmings, use them to make homemade vegetable stock). Finally, cut the remaining part of the cylinder in half lengthwise.
This will leave two leek halves that look like half barrels. Fan them open and rinse thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt that remains between the layers.
Then, you can start preparing your leeks for cooking. You can use them raw in spring rolls, for example, or dice and saute them in a stir-fry or soup. But before using them in any recipe, you must wash them thoroughly.
Leeks grow in sandy soil, and gritty material collects between the layers. It’s important to rinse these vegetables to remove as much of this grit as possible so your meal won’t be full of grime.
One way to do that is by cutting the leeks in half and rinsing them in the long, narrow end that extends from the top of each leek (see Step 2). You can also place whole or sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water, swishing them around to agitate them and help loosen any dirt that’s stuck in the crevices.
Another way to wash leeks is by placing them in the strainer of a salad spinner ($31, Wayfair). That method works very well too. But it’s best to do this after cutting the leeks because this will allow you to spin them dry, which will help keep them fresher for longer. And remember to always wear rubber gloves when handling leeks — they can be quite spongy and may slip out from under your knife.