10. Leeks are versatile and can easily swap with onions in any recipe, but their flavor is mild, earthy and unique. Leeks are in the same family as garlic and onions (and, for that matter, lilies!), so they have a bulb shape that might look familiar, even if you’ve never prepared leeks before.
9. Leeks are HUGE… ideal for feeding a crowd! Many recipes call for the bulb part while others use the tender inner stems. That means each leek will go a long way! If you’re still wondering what to do with the tough outer leaves, you can always save them for stock…. or try some of the other uses this article describes.
8. You’re with family and friends, so now is the time to enjoy onion flavors and know that everyone will love you anyway.
7. Leeks are packed with health benefits. They’re a great source of fiber, as well as vitamins like A, B and K and minerals like magnesium, niacin and riboflavin. Like onions, shallots and scallions, leeks go to work to bring you anti-inflammatory antioxidants and compounds thought to fight tumors and reduce blood pressure. Bring a leek dish, and you’re attending to your loved ones’ health!
6. Think of all the puns you can make with the veggie’s name. That uncle, aunt, grandparent or cousin who can’t resist a good pun will be forever grateful that you provided such an easy set-up.
5. Wolff’s Apple House carries an abundance of fresh, local leeks, so it will be easy to find them at your favorite local farm market.
4. Leek Salads are crisp, cool and flavorful. Bring a bowl of this easy and refreshing salad!
- 2 leeks, white and light green stem parts only
- 3 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
- Juice from 2 fresh-squeezed limes
- Leaves from 5 thyme sprigs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly-ground pepper and kosher salt, to taste
- Make a dressing by whisking oil, lime juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Cut leeks lengthwise and then slice into thin half-moons. Toss with dressing.
- Add cucumbers and tomatoes, toss with thyme, and adjust seasonings if needed.
3. Leek Soup with Potato and Tomato, a classic Wolff family recipe, offers a great warm-up at the end of the day or after swimming, playing in the sprinkler or skidding along on the slip-and-slide. If your Memorial Day venue comes with access to an electrical outlet, keep this thick, bisque-like soup in the crock pot as a nourishing way to soothe the after-swimming shivers.
2. Leek Tarts are sure to impress and delight fellow picnickers! They’re a delicious way to use up the leek’s tender, inner stems (pictured below). As you cook the leeks, make sure they do not burn; unlike onions, leeks do not caramelize well! They just get bitter!
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 3 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 slabs bacon, chopped into half-inch rectangles
- 3½ cups leeks, tender inner leaves only (go for the "spring green" parts, not the Christmas-tree green leaves!)
- 6 eggs
- ⅓ cup Crema Mexicana
- ⅔ cup milk
- Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Beat butter and cheese until they are well blended. Gradually add flour and salt. Roll dough into 1 or 2 balls and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 30 minutes. (This recipe might make enough dough to save a bit for later... better to have too much than a thin, fragile, difficult crust.) Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, transfer to a pie plate, prick the dough a few times with a fork, cover it in foil and sprinkle a layer of dried beans on top to weigh the foil down. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove the foil and beans.
FILLING: Cook bacon until it is cooked but not yet crisp. Add leeks and olive oil, stirring leeks to coat. (For a healthier option, drain the bacon fat and use another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.) Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until nice and tender. Add salt and pepper and remove from stove.
- Beat the eggs lightly in a medium bowl, and then add milk and cream. Whisk, and then add thyme.
- Set the pie plate on a baking sheet. Add leek-bacon mixture to pie crust and pour the egg mixture on top.
- Bake the tart (on top of the baking sheet) for 30 minutes or until the filling has puffed up and is golden brown on top.
And now, the #1 reason: Leeks are grown in trenches… nature’s reminder of those who have been in the trenches, embracing difficulty and danger for our benefit.
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