Leek Tops Unpacked
Before looking at what to do with leek tops, it is essential to understand what they are exactly. Leeks are like spring onions that grow with a head of tall, prickly leaves. For the best results, go for leeks with their tops intact because they are flavorful.
Seasoned chefs suggest you finely chop the green leaves across the grain and use them as the other vegetables. You can also use the leek’s odds and ends to wrap a bouquet farni in the tough outer skin. Additionally, you can use them to flavor stews and soups.
When you read many recipes that include leek tops, they usually refer to using the green tops as add-ins for soup. However, you must remove them once they have imparted their juicy layer of flavor and discard them.
On the other hand, you can store them in the freezer and use them whenever you’re making soup. If you have limited space in your apartment-sized freezer, freezing them might not be practical for you.
So, what do you do with leek tops? Fortunately, there are many ways you can make the leek tops useful. Please keep reading to find out more!
How to Cook Leek Tops
Do you love leek tops? Well, many people love leeks because of the subtle flavor they add to the food. But, when most recipes call for leeks, they normally state you use the white and light green parts only. As a result, most people just discard the tough, dark green leek tops.
Are you tired of discarding these tops? You are not alone! Fortunately, once you know how to cook leek tops, you’ll never have to worry about throwing them away. Cooking leeks takes around 45 minutes.
What do you need to cook leek tops? The ingredients are pretty basic; they include:
- Leek tops
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Butter garlic
- Lemon juice
- Chicken stock (unsalted)
- Dried chili flakes
- Ground black pepper
- Vegetable stock
With these ingredients in place, here is how to cook leek tops:
- Slice the leek tops (make about ¼ to ½ inch slices (0.64 to 1.27 centimeters)). Stop slicing the moment you reach the light green part.
- Grind two garlic cloves lightly. You can use more to your taste.
- Meanwhile, heat the pan over medium heat. (Consider using a pan with a lid because you’ll cover it at some point).
- Place the sliced leek tops into a colander and rinse them properly.
- Melt equal portions of olive oil and butter together in your warm pan. For example, for six medium-sized leeks, use three tablespoons of both.
- Add the sliced leek tops with two lightly ground garlic cloves when the butter melts.
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt and a ¼ teaspoon of dried chili flakes. Toss to cover the leek tops evenly. The salt also plays a role in dehydrating leeks. Suppose you need more salt; add it later on to prevent browning.
- Allow everything to cook for around five minutes for the leek tops to soften up a bit.
- Add a cup of chicken or vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a simmer on medium heat, then lower it to medium-low. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
- When you remove the lid, you’ll see a change in the leek top’s texture. They’ll also be softer and creamier. Turn the heat back up to medium and allow the stock to reduce until just a little amount of liquid remains in the pan.
- Drag a wooden spoon through the leek mixture; if it leaves a clean trail behind, take it off the heat. Remove the garlic cloves, taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
- Transfer everything to a serving dish or a storage container. Squeeze ½ lemon on the mixture to liven things up. Stir the mixture to distribute the lemon juice. Add a little olive oil when the mixture is still hot for an extra layer of flavor.
Moreover, adding dried chili flakes at this point might not be a great idea. This is because they wouldn’t have enough time to soften. As a result, consider using freshly ground black pepper.
You can enjoy the mixture as a leek side dish, spoon it over fish, or toss it with pasta. Furthermore, feel free to vary your seasons as per your taste. For example, use thyme or tarragon if you intend to use the mixture with fish. You can also mix it with rice or beans or toss it with pasta.
What to do with Leek Tops
As mentioned earlier, most recipes don’t tell people what to do with leek tops. However, as people continue to explore further, they have found several uses of leek tops. You’ll come across dishes that feature leeks the vegetable, among other creative ideas.
Here are some ideas of what to do with leek tops:
- Freeze for soup: You can freeze the leek tops and use them when making soup stock.
- Deep-fried crumbles: Chop the leek tops into short, thin strips and deep fry them in a tempura-like batter. Crush them and use them as toppings on salads and soups.
- Stir-fry: Add leek tops to a stir-fry. The sturdy green leaves can bear the high heat of this method. However, you must stir constantly and cook briefly.
- Bouquet packet: Enfold herbs in a green leek blade and strap them into a packet for a bouquet garni.
- Steam them: Add leek tops to the bottom of a bamboo steamer to add flavor to lean chicken and fish.
- Make a rack: Use the leek tops as a rack under roasted chicken and meat. This approach adds some flavor to the drippings. It also raises the meat slightly from the pan. Dispose of them before you use the drippings for gravy.
- Make a tart: Use them to make a leek tart.
Leek Soup With Crisp Green Leek Tops
Time: 45 minutes
Serving Size: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Nutritional Facts/Info per serving/in total:
- Calories: 186 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 1.16 ounces (33 grams)
- Protein: 0.14 ounces (4 grams)
- Fat: 0.18 ounces (5 grams)
- Saturated fat: 0.04 ounces (1 gram)
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.04 ounces (1 gram)
- Monosaturated fat: 0.11 ounces (3 grams)
- Sodium: 0.02 ounces (642 milligrams)
- Potassium: 0.02 ounces (698 milligrams)
- Fiber: 0.14 ounces (4 grams)
- Sugar: 0.14 ounces (4 grams)
- Vitamin A: 863IU
- Vitamin C: 0.001 ounces (35 milligrams)
- Calcium: 0.001 ounces (40 milligrams)
- Iron: 3.52 ounces (2 milligrams)
- Slotted spoon
- 1 leek (around 8.82 ounces (250 grams)). Washed
- ½ small onion, sliced
- 1 floury potato (around 7.76 ounces (220 grams)), sliced
- 16.91 fluid ounces (500 ml) vegetable stock (or water)
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 4.06 fluid ounces (120 milliliters) of whole milk
- Light olive oil for frying
- Cream, for serving (optional)
- Slice four tablespoons of thin green strips from the tips to where the dark green turns to light green. Rinse them thoroughly and leave them to dry.
- Roughly slice the remaining leek and put it in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sliced ½ onion, one floury potato, and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft.
- Add the milk and mix the soup until smooth—season to taste.
- To cook the green leek tops, heat a small saucepan with a good oil glug over medium-high heat.
- Drop one piece of leek into the saucepan, and when it bubbles and floats to the surface, put in the rest of the sliced leek tops.
- Fry for a couple of minutes until they become crisp but still retain some of their color.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked leek tops and serve on top of the soup with a dash of cream if it’s your preference.
Leeks are usually dirty. Therefore, ensure you wash them thoroughly before you start the cooking process. You wouldn’t want the sand to spoil your soup, would you?
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your preferences. For instance, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water.
If you want a creamier potato leek soup, use an immersion blender to blend all the soup. Alternatively, transfer the soup to a regular blender and mix it. Read our article and find out Food Processor vs. Blender: What’s the DIFFERENCE?
Avoid using waxy potatoes for the potato soup because they tend to cook up a bit gummier. Consequently, the resulting texture does not work well for soup.
If you have been wondering what to do with the crisp green leek tops, this article has got you covered. You’ve learned what you can do with leeks instead of throwing them away. You’ve learned how to cook leeks and got a simple recipe to get you started.
It is also essential to remember that leek tops are dirty. Therefore, ensure you clean them properly before you start cooking. In this sense, if you are chopping them, it will be straightforward to clean. However, if you plan to use them whole, you have to be thorough.
Fortunately, all the work you put into the cleaning will be worthwhile! Depending on the recipe you are using, you can rest assured the results will be satisfying. So, what’s your favorite use of leek tops?