Absolutely. And you should!
All parts of the leek are edible, but most recipes will probably instruct that you only use the bulb and toss the greens in the trash. They’re often dismissed because they take “longer” to cook, but I found from experience that the cooking time is not that much longer than softening onions.
They’re also great for those who are on the low FODMAP diet. Leek leaves are a fantastic substitute since onions and shallots are high FODMAPs. Because my partner has been recommended to go on the low FODMAP diet, I’ve been doing a ton of research about leeks and this is what I’ve found!
Always Clean Your Leeks
Leeks are dirty so you’ll want to wash them thoroughly. The bulb of the leek is usually the most popularly eaten part of the leek but it contains high FODMAPs so it’s the part that I end up throwing out. If you’re using the whole leek, be sure to rinse the entire thing.
I found it easiest to go ahead and chop of the leak leafs into bite size pieces and place them in a colander. I rinsed and massaged them to be sure all the dirt was washed away and to tenderize them.
After reading a ton about leeks I never saw anyone massage the dark leaves, but it’s what I do to soften cabbage so I thought it couldn’t hurt and it worked!
How Long Do Leeks Take to Cook
I found that leek leaves didn’t take much longer to cook than sautéing onions. After rinsing my chopped leak leafs, I heated some olive oil in my Dutch oven and tossed the leak leafs in. As they start to heat, you instantly get the same aroma you would from heating onions.
I typically sauté my onions for 5-7 minutes and that’s about the same time it took to cook the chopped leek leaves. I could see where if you left the leafs in larger pieces it may take a longer cooking time.
Ways to Cook with Leeks
There are several ways to incorporate leaks into your meals! The bulbs are an almost identical substitute for onions but the leaves often stump people. After sautéing mine, I did add other ingredients for an autumnal soup I was cooking and let everything simmer for 40 minutes. Because of the broth, the leek leaves had plenty of time to soften.
Soups and broths are probably the most popular use of leek leaves but they’re not the only. You can cook them down to soften enough for a stir-fry or any other dish that you are using. I would just allow 10-15 minutes to saute vs the 5-7. However, I still don’t see this as a reason to discard the leek leaves because they “take too long”. Just toss your chopped leek leaves in hot oil and let them sauté while you prep the rest of your meal! That way no time is wasted.
Leek leaves are also often braised and once they’ve softened, they taste great in pastas, rice, beans or stir-fry.
You can also use large portions of the leek leaves to infuse flavor. Just like a bay leaf!
You can also clean and store them in Ziploc bags in your freezer for a later day if you’re not planning on using the leaves immediately. They will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Where to Buy Leeks
Leeks are often sold in bunches at your local grocery store. I live in Arkansas and typically only find mine sold in the organic section if I’m shopping at Kroger, but you can easily find them at Whole Foods and Fresh Market as well. The price of leeks will fluctuate depending on where you live. I believe the last time I purchased them it was a bunch of two for $3.99USD.
How to Store
Leeks can take up a lot of space in your fridge if you’re not using them immediately so keep that in mind. How I store mine is with plastic grocery sacks! I place the bulb end in one grocery sack and wrap it around and the place another grocery sack over the leaves for protection against our stash of pickle jars and salsas.
Depending on their freshness, leeks can be stored anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks.
Unfortunately, once you cut into a leek, whether it be the leaves or the bulb, you’ll need to use them. However, don’t forget you can freeze the leek leaves to use later in a soup or stock for up to three months!
Leeks contain a lot of nutrients. They contain a good source of vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. They contain a high amount of vitamin A which is good for your vision, immune system, reproduction and cell communication. They also contain vitamin K1 which helps prevent blood clotting and supports heart health.
Leeks, like many other green vegetables, are also a source of vitamin B6 which helps regulate our nervous system.
They are good for digestion which is why the leaves are encouraged for a low FODMAP diet.
And they can also help with acne and produce shiny hair!
Eat More Leeks!
Leeks are a great source for nutrients and are super versatile. They’re used in all sorts of dishes from soups, stocks, rice and even scrambled eggs and omelets! They’re also a popular ingredient for the Chinese New Year resembling wealth and money. Maybe I’ll start braising them for our new year and put them in my black eyed peas, cabbage and cornbread!
Have you ever tried cooking with leeks?
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Remember to be brave in trying new things and always cook with a dash of love!
Until next time,
Haley | Creator of Haley’s Kitchen