Leeks are one of my favorite vegetables. Add them to soup, a stir-fry, braise them or roast them. However you cook them, they will need to be cleaned. Since leeks are grown in sandy soil, they often have a little sand or dirt tucked in between the layers. Don’t worry though, it is easy to remove. Here’s how we do it in our own kitchen:
Step One: Cut off the dark, tough green leaves about an inch from the white part of the stalk. Discard or save them for homemade stock.
Step Two: Cut the leek in half, lengthwise, but don’t cut all the way through the root.
Step Three: Place the leek into a bowl of water and move it around. Using your fingers pull apart the layers to check for hidden sand. (You can also do this under running water, but the bowl works well and uses less water).
Step Four: Slice the leeks. If you are using them in a soup or stew you might want to slice the leeks thinner so the texture “fades away” into the dish during cooking, just leaving the flavor. Leeks also work really well in a stir fry, cutting them lengthwise works the best.
There are always multiple ways to do things, here is another way to clean leeks: Pre-cut the leeks and place them in a bowl full of water. Leave the leeks for about 15 minutes and you will find the sand sinks to the bottom and the leeks float on the top. Take the leeks out of the bowl and rinse. Pat dry and you are ready to go.
Updated, originally posted March 2010. Since posting this in 2010, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne