Much like an onion, leeks form a bulb and long, bundle of leaves extend above the ground.
Soil must be loose and well-drained.
The bulbs of the plant do not tolerate wet soil.
As a very hearty vegetable, some varieties can survive during the early winter months, extending their harvest season.
Most agree, prolonging harvest will intensify the flavor.
Unlike its sister, the onion, leeks have a sweeter, milder flavor and can be a great alternative in the kitchen to the onion in most culinary dishes.
Leeks are easy to plant
- Prepare planting holes for seedlings by making a row of holes, approximately 5-6 inches deep, which should be about the height of your seedlings. Holes can be made using a shovel or broom handle. Place the holes approximately 5-inches apart.
- Place a single seedling in each hole. Verify roots of seedlings are at the bottom of each hole.
- Water seedlings very well. Filling each hole with water.
- Once water has soaked into the surrounding dirt; cover the seedlings with loose soil.
- I recommend pegging down horticultural fleece around the crop; protecting it from a light frost and pests.
- Only the very tip-top of each seedling should be exposed.
Harvesting mature leeks
If in heavy soil, use a fork-tool to lift the bulb and roots out of the ground. If loose soil, just pulling on the green stalk leaves, should do the trick.
Leeks in the kitchen
Because I LOVE their aroma and sweet flavor…I have made many dishes using leeks…
Due to the layered structure of leeks, it is crucial to clean them properly.
Prepare leeks by cutting off the dark green stalk, just where it meats the light green color in the bulb.
I never use the stalks, although some home cooks have used them to flavor stock.
To remove all the dirt and sand possibly lingering inside each layer; I cut up the leeks appropriate to the cooking method; place all trimmings in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cool water.
Boiling leeks will reduce their flavor and make them soft.
Frying will preserve the flavor, but can give them a crispy texture.
Raw leeks can be added to salads or as a substitute for onions.
Sauteing leeks, MY PREFERRED METHOD, turns them bright green and enhances the rich flavor.
So…it is autumn…peek leek season…. Let’s elevate simple, home-cooked mashed potatoes by adding sautéed leeks.
Elevate Your Mashed Potatoes
- 3 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 7 Tbsp butter
- 3 leeks, cut and chopped
- 1/3 cup warm milk
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Peel, wash and cut potatoes into 1/2" pieces. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Cook 15 minutes after reaching boiling point. Drain. Place back in pot, on low heat to evaporate all remaining liquid, this should take 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare leeks for cooking by cutting and slicing to make small pieces.
- Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Melt butter over medium-high heat.
- Once butter has melted, add chopped leeks. Saute, stirring often until leeks are bright green and soft.
- Add leeks to already drained potatoes.
- Add 4 -5 more tablespoons of butter to potato/leek mixture.
- Add 1/3 cup of warm milk.
- Mash and stir potatoes until combined.
- Season with salt and pepper.