Use Leeks from the Garden in Dinners and Salads

Recipe courtesy of Judy McCarter

While the green leaves of leeks are often a flavorful addition to winter soups and stews, leeks on their own can be used in a surprising variety of ways that take advantage of their delicate flavor and color — as a vegetable addition to an entrée, as a salad or a garnish to a soup or fish.

Leeks in White Sauce

2-3 leeks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper

Wash leeks and remove roots and some of the green ends. Cut into slices about 2-3 inches long. Cook in boiling, salted water till soft but firm. Drain and place in serving bowl.

While cooking, make white sauce by melting two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in one and a half to two tablespoons of white flour and stir briskly over the heat till it thickens, adding up to one cup of milk slowly and stirring continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon so that no lumps form. Add milk, stirring until the sauce begins to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pour over leeks. Keep warm till ready to serve.

Leeks Vinaigrette

3-4 leeks
1 teaspoon French mustard
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove crushed with _ teaspoon salt
Chopped herbs - parsley, chives, tarragon, oregano
Fresh ground pepper

Trim the leeks and cut them lengthwise almost to the root end. Wash thoroughly, then tied them together with string. Drop into boiling, salted water and simmer till tender — about 10-12 minutes. Drain.

Mix mustard, garlic and salt, pepper and vinegar. Add the oil gradually, stirring until the ingredients are well blended. Stir in the chopped herbs. Marinate the leeks in the dressing for at least two hours and chill before serving. (Many vegetables can be served this way — small onions, green beans, cauliflower, carrots and celery.)

Braised Leeks

3-4 leeks
2 tablespoons butter
1 small white onion, minced
2 cups broth
Salt and pepper

Cut the tops of the leeks and remove the roots. Cut the stalks in half length wise and wash. Tie the leeks with string to keep them together.

Heat the butter in a pan over low heat, adding the onion. Saute gently till light brown. Add the leeks, broth, alt and pepper. Cover and simmer till leeks are tender - 10-15 minutes. Serve warm on toast or chilled with French dressing as an hors d'oeuvre.

Frizzled Leeks (Union Square Café)

3 cups of finely cut leeks - about 1/16 inch thick and 2 inches long, white only, washed and dried
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable oil

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil. The temperature is right when you drop a crouton-sized piece of bread into the oil - it should float to the surface and lightly grown in a couple of minutes.

Toss the leeks in the flour and shake off the excess. Place the leeks in batches in the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle the leeks with salt and serve hot. Great with carrot soup or seared fish among other dishes.

Leek and Potato Soup (Vichyssoise)

1 bunch leeks
3 medium potatoes, peeled
1-2 tablespoons butter
4 cups chicken stock made from cubes
1/4 to 1/2 pint cream
Salt and pepper
Chopped chives, parsley or tarragon

Wash leeks and slice white parts only. Peel and slice the potatoes. Melt the butter in a pan, add the leeks and potatoes, and cook very slowly for 5-10 minutes without browning. Add stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes till vegetables are very soft. Blender in food process till smooth. Cool, then mix in the cream and season to taste. Chill. Sprinkle with chives, parsley or tarragon before serving.

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