Leeks are a great winter veg; they’re tasty, versatile and cheep. Use them to bulk out stews and casseroles, to add flavour to soups and pies and they are great fried in butter and black pepper and served with a roast dinner. Part of the onion family, they’re full of flavour and really easy to grow if any of you fancy dabbling in a bit of veg growing this year. The white/light green, more succulent part of leeks are grown underground, the darker part has been above ground and made tougher by the elements. The white/light section is the most useful part of the leek (although all of it apart from the root can be eaten) so as they grow, the soil is mounded up around it, leaving only a small amount above ground to turn dark. This is why you find so much soil and dirt in between the layers, and these layers make it really difficult to wash the veg properly. This means you grab all your ingredients, wash the leek as best you can, start chopping away and end up with dirt all over your chopping board and veg. Nightmare! I think this puts people off using them – all the dirt and the size of them. Few recipes call for an entire leek, and quite often they are sold in multi-packs at the supermarkets. no one can eat 3 whole leeks in a week!
Well, I have the solution to both these issues:
Next time you use a leek, instead of washing it and chopping it into rounds like above (and finding clumps of dirt as you do), slice the entire leek down the middle, length ways, leaving half the root on each side, like below.
The root will hold the layers of the leek in place, meaning you can pull them apart slightly under the tap and thoroughly wash the leek, inside and out.
Then lay it on your chopping board, flat side down, remove the root and chop as you would before, now into half moons.
Even if you only want to use a small amount of leek, I would still use this method to prep it and I would chop both halves – you might as well chop the entire thing while its in front of you on the chopping board. What ever you don’t want to use right away can be put in an airtight tub or freezer bag and placed in the freezer. The veg can be cooked straight from frozen.