Does your recipe call for you to cut off the green part or tops of the leeks and just toss them out? Is that a good call or not? Let us show you how you can save them from the garbage heap. Learn how to use whole leeks (minus the root end).
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I believe leeks are one of the most underrated veggies there is.
They are delicious. Plain and simple. They are a great option when you want to add a delicate flavor than isn't as assertive as onions.
Whether in soup or even just straight up eating them. Look at these buttered leeks.
Don't those look like the perfect side dish!
Now when you find a recipe that calls for leeks, they all say to get rid of the green parts. I have a recipe that says to do just that.
That raises two questions - why and is there anything you can do for them?
🙋 Why Remove the Green Parts
The leek tops are really tough. Especially the dark green parts. Like if you tried chewing them, people would wonder if you were a cow chewing it's cud.
This is why recipes call for you to cut them off and just use the white tender parts of the leeks.
Should you then just toss the greens or can you use them? Here are some ways to save them from the trash. The only thing that should go into the trash is the root end, but try to only cut off just the roots, not too much of the actual leek.
🍲 Use in Stocks
If you ever make homemade vegetable stock or chicken stock and I think you totally should, then throwing in the green parts of the leeks in is a great idea. When you make stock you are straining it at the end, perfect for getting the flavor out of the greens without having to try and chew them.
Might I suggest you use this leek infused vegetable stock instead of water the next time you make white rice.
🥣 Add to Soup
Keep the green parts large and put them into a soup (such as potato leek soup). Even if you aren't going to strain the soup you will be able to easily grab the leeks out because they so large.
To make it even easier you could use some butcher twine or string to tie the pieces together and then just have one bundle to pull out. You could include the green part of leeks in a bouquet garni. This is a mix of fresh herbs that are tight together and fished out of the finished food.
🐔 Roast Chicken
Take the leaves and place them underneath chicken that you roast in the oven. This will impart some of that mild onion flavor the leek possesses to the chicken. Such a delicious way to use them and takes no effort.
I love to butterfly my whole chicken and cook them under the broiler instead of just roasting them in the oven. You may burn the leeks that way.
🀤 Bamboo Steamer
If you ever steam buns or dumplings in a bamboo basket, instead of lining a bamboo steamer with cloth or parchment paper use the leeks. Not only will it add flavor you not have to clean cloth or throw out used parchment paper.
Another way to make them crispy is to try dehydrating them.
If you are going to take the time to do this I would recommend having a lot to do at once. You can combine the white part of the leek as well and use the entire leek for the procedure.
Easy way to dehydrate - Place leeks in a single layer into your oven set to the lowest temperature it goes to. Cook for several hours until the leeks are dry and brittle.
The dehydrated leeks can be store for a long time and added to soups. Great to put on top of a salad.
You can turn the into a powder as well. When the leeks are perfectly dry, put them into a food processor and turn them into a powder. Use just like you would garlic powder.
In my world, pesto isn't just for basil. You can make pesto out of a lot of different "green things". I have made pesto from spinach, kale, and asparagus. The darker green parts of leeks could work for pesto. You could mix them with other greens like the traditional basil or spinach.
Then just use on toast or over your favorite pasta. I especially like drizzling some pesto onto tomato soup.
💡 Top Tip
Most of the leeks I find at the grocery store are monstrously huge. You probably could use them as a weapon in case someone broke into your house. Bigger isn't always better.
If you can try to find smaller leeks. These will often be more tender and you may not have the problem with the green tops being too fibrous. During the season, try your local farmer's market to look for small or baby leeks.
🧊 Freezing Leek Greens
Don't have enough green tops? Get a plastic resealable bag and place the leeks inside until you are ready to cut them. This is a great idea for stock making. The texture of the leeks doesn't matter anyway, so freezing does no harm.
🟤 What if the Tops are Turning Brown?
As leeks start going bad the tops are the first to turn bad. Usually starting at the top the leaves may start to brown or dry out. At this point I use as much of the leek that is still looking good and toss the rest.
➕ More Posts You Need to Read
Next time you have leeks now you won't just throw out the tops. I have given you a lot of great inspiration and ideas.
If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about how to know when veggies should be kept or toss, read these posts: