How to Clean and Slice Leeks

How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Photo Tutorial

Leeks are members of the onion family. Both the classical Romans and Greeks were very fond of leeks, in particular the Roman Emperor Nero who earned the nickname Porrophagus, or “leek eater,” after he took to eating them in large quantities in order to improve his singing voice. The Greeks and Romans praised leeks, while deeming garlic and onions fit only for the less fortunate. The ancient Roman cookbook Apicius includes 4 individual recipes for leeks, while only calling for garlic and onions in small quantities as flavorings. Today onion and garlic are a building block in most savory recipes, whereas leeks are not nearly as common. Times have certainly changed!

Some historians believe that the Romans introduced leeks to Britain and eventually Wales. An old tale claims that the Welsh, who made leeks their “national emblem,” tucked raw leeks into their hats during the 7th century Battle of Heathfield so that the soldiers could easily distinguish between their allies and enemies. Did the Welsh triumph over the Saxons due to their own strength, or because the powerful odor of raw leeks helped them to know friend from foe? We may never know.

What we do know is how to prepare leeks for use in recipes! The challenge with leeks is the dirt and debris that gets caught inside their many layers and leaves. There is a simple solution to getting all of that dirt out and slicing your leeks for cooking. All you need is a sharp knife, a bowl of water, and a colander. Here’s how!

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How to Clean and Slice Leeks

You will need

  • Whole leeks
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Large bowl of cold water
  • Colander
Total Time: 5 Minutes
Servings: Varies
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Thoroughly rinse your leeks and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialWith a sharp knife, remove the dark green leaf end and discard or save for soup or stew stock.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialThinly slice the leek into rings and discard the root end.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialSubmerge the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water. Give them a gentle stir or shake to remove any soil or grit between the layers.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialAllow the leeks to sit in the water for a few minutes. Then scoop them into a colander using your hands or a slotted spoon. This ensures that you aren’t dumping the rinse water back onto the leeks.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialNow you have clean, sliced leeks that are ready to be used.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialAlternatively, if you prefer, you can slice your leeks into thin strips by first removing the dark green leaf ends and the root ends. Discard or reserve these for soup or stew stocks.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialThen, slice each leek in half from top to bottom.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialSlice the halves into thin strips. Then rinse in a bowl of water the same way you would with the rings, scooping them into a colander to drain.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Step by Step TutorialThere you have it! Clean, sliced leeks that can be used in a variety of recipes.
  • How to Clean and Slice Leeks - Easy Photo Tutorial

Research Sources:

Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.

Rupp, Rebecca. How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2011. Print.

Comments (21)Post a Comment

  1. I love leeks in a whole lot of things, but have to laugh at checkout when I get the look like what in the world are these and then the long run through their index book until I finally tell them, they are leeks. Same with bok choy…:).

  2. Leeks are great! We use the dark green part too- there’s no reason to throw it away, especially is soups and stews. Leeks are great to use as a substitute for onions in dishes if you have an intolerance for onions. They’re also great sauteed with olive olive oil, and cottage cheese, in between phyllo dough like a greek pie.

  3. You really don’t need to throw away the tops and the ends. If you wash them off and then cook them in a lot of water, you can make some decent stock for your next batch of soup. **Then throw the cooked pieces in your compost pile (if you have one.)

  4. leek, is so good in any kind of green salads , in soups with the green , and fry like onions with garlic ……may be you can give us more recipes .???????????? yes thank you

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Other than in soups, I use leeks steamed with carrots.

    EASY and delicious – and no need for anything else – unless you insist. My family also likes the steamed leeks/carrots cold the next day.


  6. I never thought of slicing the leeks in rings and then cleaning them. My veggie soup just got more appealing. Thank you for the tip.

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