what are leeks?
Leeks look somewhat like giant scallions, but with wide flat leaves rather then thin, hollow stalks. Unlike scallions, leeks are prized for the white portion – the tough, leafy green portion generally gets tossed (although since leeks are so pricy and I hate the thought of all that veggie going to waste, I freeze those bits and add them to my stocks). Leeks are delicious slow-cooked in soups and stews (potato leek soup is a classic), and can also be grilled or sautéed.
To prepare your leeks, remove the dark green, tough outer leaves. I bend them back gently and snip them off with kitchen scissors, cutting all the way down to where the leaf color becomes more of a pale green. Cut the leeks down the center lengthwise, taking care not to pierce all the way through and leaving them connected at the root. This will help keep the leek intact while you rinse it. It’s very, very important to wash leeks thoroughly in cold running water, taking care to get rid of all the grit and dirt that’s collected between the tightly layered leaves (there’ll be quite a bit). Use whole (if grilling, for instance), or slice.