Leeks are white, yellow and green in color and they have a light and sweet flavor. It is because of this flavor that they are often used as a substitute for onions.
They're probably best known for being served as potato leek soup. However, leeks can be added to a variety of soups and stews, used to garnish dishes or mixed in with salads.
When at the grocery store or market, make sure you choose leeks that are green and healthy. Soft or mushy leeks are often a sign of rot and should be avoided.
To prepare the leeks for cutting, be sure to cut the leeks just below the dark green leaves since the leaves are often tough and not typically eaten. Also, be sure to cut the bulbs off of the bottom of the leeks and discard.
Once the ends are removed, it's important to wash them thoroughly since dirt and grit often gets lodged into the white sections. Often, it is best to cut them lengthwise and run the leeks under cold water, fanning the layers to ensure that all of the dirt is washed away.
Cutting the leeks depends on how you want to prepare them. Leeks are often cut lengthwise or in roundels. Once you decide on how they need to be cut, according to the recipe directions, the leeks are ready to be cooked.
Leeks can be steamed, boiled, fried or roasted. One of the best ways to cook leaks is to sweat them. To sweat them, place them in a pan with butter or oil and cook over low heat until they get soft but not browned. Leeks should never be browned, or overcooked, because it will turn them into slimy mush. Instead, cook them until they are tender. They need to be cooked carefully and with a watchful eye because it's easy to undercook and overcook them.
Leeks can be a delicious and nutritious addition to a dish if prepared and cooked properly. If you like onions in dishes, try substituting leeks every once in a while for a true culinary treat.