You want to learn how to cut leeks but first you have to prep them. Because of the way they grow, leeks leaves are filled with soil, sometimes all the way to the interior of the leek. So prep work is essential. Here's how to pre and cut leeks.
The first time I ever cooked with a leek was when I was making a potato/leek soup, years ago. The instructions told me to "prep the leeks". Huh? I thought a leek was like a massive spring onion. I don't need to prep a spring onion. Why I gotta prep a leek? Here's why ...
So I didn't. I cut the end with the roots off and started slicing. I sliced the whole sucker up, all the way to the tips. Then I noticed a tiny bit of dirt on one of the slices. Then more dirt, then a part of a leaf. I wiped the bit of dirt I could see off and started sauteing away. What resulted was a dirt filled pan with some partly cooked bitter leeks that not even a blender could pulverize.
I shouldda prepped my leeks. Problem is, I didn't know what prepping a leek was. I'd never cooked with them before so how would I know?? The same way I don't cook with mushrooms (blech) so I have no idea how to prep them. (kay ... I'll give you Portabellas, Portabella mushrooms are pretty good)
So ... I have for you today,
How to Prep a Leek
The leek really is similar to a massive green onion (scallion, spring onion). It has a bit of a different flavour and definitely isn't as strong as an onion or green onion. I know this because when I slice a leek my mascara only cries down to my nostrils as opposed to when I chop onions and I have mascara dripping off my chin.
To prep it, the first thing you do is slice it down the centre.
If you're like me, you'll think perfect! The leek is prepped! It's not.
Because, on further inspection, the leek is filled with dirt. And yes, those are even cedar leaves. (I looked it up ... the green part of the cedar are really called leaves)
So the second part of prepping a leek is to wash it under water. Not just rinse ... wash. No, not with soap. Just water. Let the water run in between all of the layers of the leek. They're filled with dirt! Dirty old leeks.
Good. Now your leek is almost prepped. You're doing an excellent job. Your mother would be proud.
Now all you have to do is work your way down the dark green, woody part of the leaves and cut them off. You want to be left with the white and light green portion of the leeks. The dark green stuff is chewy, tough and bitter when you cook it. If that's your thing, go nuts ... chow down on the grossness of the dark green leek. But we can't be friends anymore and I'm definitely not coming for dinner.
Almost all recipes for leeks call for you to slice them thinly, like so. You're done. You've prepped a leek.
In closing, when a recipe suggests you do something ... you should probably do it. Unless it tells you to add mushrooms. In which case you should ignore it entirely.
→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←
And the silly thing is, I am admiring your cutting board while reading this VERY informative post.
YAY now I know what to do with leeks!!!
Andrea! That cutting board is from one of my sponsors. Brenda from Cattails Studio (who gave away the beautiful rolling pin) sells them on her site. Click on the Cattails Studio box on the right side bar to see all she has. I *love* that cutting board too. ~ karen
Karen, I have to wear swimming goggles when I chop onions or I "cry" so much I could accidentally chop a hand off. It is a handy little trick, and has seriously changed by life, and makes my husband laugh every time he sees me do it.
Lindsey - Hah! I've been talking about my onion goggles since I started this blog. See these two posts ...
Yes, definitely leave out the mushrooms! And almost all of the green peppers, too!
Thanks for the info. Nothing is easier to grow in your garden than leeks, except maybe garlic. Once the leeks are established, mulch them with straw; pile it up high. As the plants grow, pile on more straw. Result, leeks with 20 inch white stems and virtually no dirt. Leeks have dirt in the leaves because commercial growers mound dirt up to create the white stem.
I am still harvesting leeks even after several freezes.
heheh. leak soup sounds a bit like stone soup - do you remember that story
Great post! I didn't know how to prep a leek for a long time till I saw it once from a tv chef. You can also just cut the ends off and slice it up. Slice it up in rings and break apart. Put it in a large bowl of water and let the dirt fall to the bottom while prepping the rest of your recipe. Just scoop them out with a slotted spoon. :)Thanks for the pics!
I recommend using the hard crunchy bitter green pieces of your leek in homemade vegetable stock! If you're a menu planner like me you can prep all your veggies for your meals a couple days in advance and use all the ends and pieces in a big stock pot with water and spices to make homemade stock - freezable and healthier than that chemical stuff people buy at the grocery store.
This is the best LEEK PREP tutorial out there!! Thanks for lowering the SCARY LEEK bar, Karen. I've never purchased a leek because I didn't know what the heck to do with it, even though I've always wanted to try my hand at a delicious leek soup. You've inspired me to "go, where no family member has gone before"!
I may be going out on a limb here, but I get the sense that you don't like mushrooms?!... Great explanation on how to prep leeks, now I know how :-)
Thanks Jeff! Now go make some potato/leek soup. ~ karen!
Karen, I never knew about prepping leeks! I'll have to speak to my mama about this....so, I made you yummy leek/potato soup except the market didn't have leeks, which now I suppose was a good thing because I didn't know how to prep them. Anyway, I had an onion that I used and the soup was delish. Can't wait to make this using leeks that I now know how to prep. Thanks Karen!
You're welcome! ~ karen