Written by Abbey Reiser | Reviewed by Adiana Castro, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
During this time of year, leeks are plentiful. This close relative of the onion and garlic is a great source of vitamins and phytonutrients both of which contribute to several health benefits. Leeks contain significant amounts of Vitamin A, K, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These vitamins and compounds help to support healthy blood cell development and bone health, to promote good eyesight, and to regulate blood flow. One cup of leeks, which is equivalent to one whole leek, only contains 54 calories, allowing you to feel more satiated without consuming a large amount of calories. Leeks have a mild flavor similar to that of an onion and can be added to a variety of side dishes and soups. Here are three recipes that will allow you to incorporate leeks into your meals this season!
Leeks in Vinaigrette
4 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, tough outer layer removed
1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ garlic clove, finely grated
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
- Trim root end of leeks (leave as intact as possible so they don’t break apart while cooking) and cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until meltingly tender (a paring knife should go all the way through with no resistance), 15–20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool.
- Whisk shallot, garlic, vinegar, Dijon and whole grain mustards, thyme, and sugar in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil and 1 Tbsp. water; season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
- Halve leeks lengthwise and arrange on a platter, cut side up; drizzle with vinaigrette and let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Do Ahead: Leeks can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Greens
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (about 2 small stalks; white and pale green parts only)
1 8-ounce container sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (about 8 ounces), trimmed, center stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 cups packed)
- Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat.
- Add leeks; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until leeks begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until mushrooms soften and begin to brown, stirring often, about 7 minutes.
- Add tomatoes with juice; stir 1 minute.
- Add barley and 4 cups broth; bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until barley is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add kale; stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Cover and simmer until kale and barley are tender, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed for desired stew consistency, about 10 minutes.
Grilled Zucchini and Leeks with Walnuts and Herbs
⅓ cup walnuts
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise with some root attached
2 large zucchini (about 1 lb.), halved lengthwise
½ cup (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
- Prepare grill for medium-high heat.
- Toast walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Chop very coarsely. Toss warm walnuts with garlic, lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
- Brush leeks and zucchini with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, turning often, until tender and charred in spots, 5–8 minutes for leeks, 8–10 minutes for zucchini.
- Transfer vegetables to a cutting board. Trim roots from leeks and cut leeks and zucchini into bite-size pieces. Add vegetables and parsley to bowl with walnuts and toss to combine; season vegetables with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.