Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Until I began cooking professionally, I never really knew what to do with leeks. Sure, I saw them displayed in the produce section, but to me, they just looked like scallions on steroids. This is not to say I was unfamiliar with their flavor—I had my fair share of potato-leek soup (albeit the Knorr dry mix variety at first). It’s just that the idea of actually cooking with these seemingly imposing green stalks was daunting to me…that is until I learned how to clean and prep them properly. Any chef will tell you, this is the basis of any good leek dish. Once you get that step out of the way, the (leek) possibilities are endless. We’ve gathered some of our favorite leek recipes that showcase a variety of techniques—from searing and braising to stir-frying and grilling—that make the most out of leek’s vegetal charms. Whether you want a satisfying entree, like Nik Sharma’s flavored-pack braised leeks with Sichuan chile sauce, a luxurious creamed leeks side dish, or savory Tawainese pan-fried leek dumplings, we’ve got you covered.

Braised Leeks in Chile Sauce

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Cookbook author Nik Sharma draws on two divergent cooking styles for this easy-to-make dish full of punchy complex flavors. He starts by braising his leeks until meltingly tender the European way, then finishes them off with a chile sauce made with doubanjiang (Sichuan chile bean paste), Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Serve it with lots of steamed rice to sop up that powerhouse sauce.

Braised Leeks With Lemon and Parsley

Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

While leeks so often function as background players, disappearing into stews and soups, Kenji makes them the star of the show. Here, they’re simply browned cut side down, dotted with butter, and braised until tender. A squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil are all that’s needed to let their natural sweetness shine.

Creamed Leeks

Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

It doesn’t get more French than sautéing sliced leeks down in butter until they’re soft and sweet, then adding parmesan and binding them with some cream. It makes for a decadent vegetarian side dish that goes with practically everything …but especially luxurious with crispy pan-fried cod.

The Best Potato-Leek Soup

Serious Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Leeks co-star with potatoes in another quintessentially French production. Of course, they’re slowly cooked in butter so they get beautifully soft without taking on any color. Kenji suggests taking the extra step of ricing the potatoes rather than whirling them in a blender for a lighter, cleaner texture.

Pan-Fried Leek Buns (Shui Jian Bao)

Serious Eats / Pete Lee

Who doesn’t like a crispy pan-fried bao? Ubiquitous throughout Taiwan, these buns are typically stuffed with a variety of fillings, like this leek version flavored with dried baby shrimp. While you can find the deeper green, flatter Chinese leeks traditionally used for this filling in Asian markets, the more common large variety works perfectly fine and is more readily available.

Spicy Stir-Fried Beef With Leeks and Onions

Serious Eats / Qi Ai

The key to a great stir-fry, aside from a screaming hot wok, is the preparation of each component before it ever hits the pan. Here, the flank steak is cut across the grain and marinated and the leeks are washed and put through a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture. Well-dried leeks brown better and easily achieve the characteristic smoky flavor you’d expect from high-heat wok cooking.

Seared Sea Scallops With Leek Risotto and Lemon-Brown Butter Sauce

Serious Eats / Emily and Matt Clifton

Although the seared sea scallops certainly make this money shot, the creamy, luscious leek risotto is what gives this Valentine’s Day dish elegance and panache. If sea scallops aren’t your thing, you can pair the risotto with fish, chicken, or even sliced steak.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Serious Eats / Sydney Oland

Super simple ingredients are what make this savory pie perfect for weeknight meals and company alike. The poached chicken and leeks, bound together in a bit of cream and wrapped in puff pastry, can be assembled ahead, then brushed with an egg wash and baked when you’re ready to eat.

Pork Chops With White Wine and Leek Pan Sauce

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A pork chop is a pork chop. Dressed it in a rich leek and white wine sauce…well, then you’ve got yourself something quite exquisite. Daniel goes hard on the leeks because they not only add incredible flavor, but their natural vegetable fiber is the secret to adding body and substance to the pan sauce.

One-Skillet Salmon With Curried Leeks and Yogurt-Herb Sauce

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Curried leeks take what could potentially be a ho-hum piece of salmon—albeit with wonderfully crispy skin—up a few notches. Just remember, the success of any leek recipe depends on thoroughly washing out any gritty bits of sand and soil buried deep down with the concentric layers.

Charred Brussels Sprouts and Leek Muchim With Coffee-Dijon Dressing

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Inspired by a favorite Korean banchan or side dish, this salad of charred Brussels sprout leaves and thinly sliced raw leeks are Sunny Lee’s take on the pa-muchim that typically accompanies samgyeopsal or grilled pork belly. Massaging in the coffee-spiked mustard dressing helps distribute it evenly and slightly soften the vegetables.

Whole-Grain Spelt Salad With Leeks and Marinated Mushrooms

Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

Leeks cooked together with mushrooms, then briefly marinated in cider vinegar for a pop of acidity, transforms cooked whole-grain spelt into a hearty salad that’s perfect as a vegetarian main or side dish.

Grilled Leeks With Romesco Sauce

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Unlike spring onions, leeks take a bit longer to soften on the grill. Parboiling them first can cut the grilling time down to less than 10 minutes, so you can savor those lovely charred leeks in romesco sauce that much sooner.

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