Admin {{ oUser.name }} Logout Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter » | Log In
All Articles Fitness Nutrition

Don't Sleep on Leeks — 6 Easy Ways to Use This Veggies in Your Cooking

If you have not yet cooked with leeks, prepare to add this versatile veggie to your must-have list of ingredients each week.

Some Leek Basics

Leeks are a member of the allium family, which also includes onions, scallions, shallots, garlic, and chives. Leeks can be used much in the same manner as you would use onions, but they provide a more subtle, sweeter flavor. Leeks resemble a really large scallion (green onion) are in season in the spring and fall but can generally be found year-round in most grocery stores.

Because of their shape and the way they grow underground, you must submerge leeks in a large bowl of water to rinse all of the dirt and grit off. The light green and white parts of a leek are the parts you can eat, while the tough, fibrous green parts are best used to add flavor to stocks or cooking liquid. You can enjoy leeks raw or cooked, and if you store them in your fridge, they will last about two weeks.

Pasta Dishes

Trust me, pasta can be a healthy dish, with a few tweaks, such as starting with whole-grain pasta (or low-carb, low-calorie pasta made from konjac flour), choosing a healthy sauce like no sugar added marinara, and adding tons of veggies. You can add several cups of sautéed or grilled leeks to your pasta dishes, or a smaller amount if combined with other cooked veggies. Sautéed or grilled leeks also make a delectable filling for stuffed pasta dishes such as ravioli or tortellini.

Stir-Fry Dishes

One of my favorite go-to healthy dinners on a busy weeknight is a stir-fry. Stir-fry is so quick, easy to prepare, nutritious, and — most of all — delicious. You can add diced or slivered leeks (wash and trim them first) to any of your stir-fry dishes (use the leeks in place of onions in a recipe). Be sure to include some lean protein, such as grilled chicken, beef, shrimp, fish, eggs, peas, or tofu, to make it a well-balanced meal.

Scrumptious Salads

One of the easiest ways to incorporate leeks into your healthy diet is to chop them up (everything but the green part) and add them to your veggie-filled salad. You can add them raw or sauté them first and then add them (either hot, right after they are cooked, or chilled after they are cooked).

Sandwich Companion

If you are looking to spruce up your otherwise monotonous sandwiches, try adding slivered leeks. Since they are more mild-tasting than raw onions but still flavorful and sweet, leeks work incredibly well in your turkey, roast beef, hummus, or tuna salad sandwiches.

Try These Recipes:

Stuffed Leeks with Feta, Cranberries, and Pistachios

Leeks are a scrumptious vehicle for all things creamy and savory on the inside.

Ingredients

  • 4 large leeks, rinsed and dark green parts trimmed off
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop 1 leek and set aside. On a large baking sheet, spread a piece of parchment paper to cover sheet. Cut the leeks (lengthwise) down the center almost through but not all the way — leave the bottommost layer of each leek intact. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together cheese, yogurt, cranberries, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, pistachios, pepper, reserved chopped leek, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Divide mixture evenly into the middle of 3 leeks on parchment paper. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top, tuck edges underneath and fold to create a sealed pouch.

3. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, remove the top layer of parchment paper, return to oven and broil for about 2-3 minutes so leeks and filling are charred just a bit on top. Remove from heat and serve.

Braised Leeks and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 6 leeks, trimmed, rinsed, sliced
  • 2 cups quartered baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Combine broth, tomato paste, thyme, fennel, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk to combine. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and add leeks and mushrooms. Sauté until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add broth mixture. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes more or until most of the liquid evaporates.

Caramelized Leek Soup with Bacon

Ingredients

  • 6 leeks (cleaned and trimmed), sliced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • 2/3 plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 4 slices center cut bacon, cooked and chopped

Directions

1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, add butter, olive oil, leeks, salt, pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until leeks begin to brown. Stir in brown sugar and cook, stirring every few minutes, about 10 minutes more. Stir in garlic, sauté for 1 minute.

2. Add in the wine and increase heat to medium. Cook several minutes until the majority of wine cooks off. Add in stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Turn off heat, transfer entire mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture back into the pot, turn the heat on to low, and stir in almond milk. Top with scallions and bacon pieces and serve.

Creamy Dijon Leeks

Ingredients

  • 4-6 leeks, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In steamer basket, cook leeks 10-12 minutes or until tender.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, sauté shallot in olive oil about 2 minutes and season with salt. Add flour and cook 1 minute. Add in chicken broth and whisk until thickened, about 4 minutes.

3. Whisk in Dijon mustard and parsley. Spoon mixture over steamed leeks and serve.

Beany Breakfast Hash

Banish your boring breakfast! Start your day right with a simple, delicious, protein-packed hash.

Cook about 4 slices of turkey bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove from pan and set aside on paper towels. In the same skillet, sauté 3 leeks (cleaned, trimmed, sliced) for about 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add in a can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), and stir until heated throughout and slightly browned. Remove beans and set aside. In the same skillet, cook 2-3 eggs over-easy (or your favorite style). Once eggs are cooked to your liking, serve over hash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Lemony Chickpeas and Leeks

This bright, delicious dish works well as a side or served as a main dish when paired with brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, or quinoa.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - drained and rinsed if from a can
  • 4 large leeks (cleaned and trimmed), diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bunches fresh rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté rosemary and garlic until garlic becomes fragrant and rosemary sizzles. Remove rosemary and set aside.

2. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and sauté about 5-8 minutes or until leeks are soft but still bright green. Add chickpeas and cook about 5 minutes more.

3. Using a microplane (or small holes of the grater), add the zest and juice from one lemon to the skillet. Season with pepper and more salt, if necessary. Add rosemary sprig back in and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

[Image via Shutterstock]

{{ oArticle.title }}

{{ oArticle.subtitle }}