How to Cut and Clean Leeks

by mary on February 22, 2012

whole leeks shown against a gray background

whole leeks

Yet another thing I learned from the The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook: how to cut and clean leeks. Leeks have a very mild flavor compared to a regular onion and make a great soup or stock. A leek looks like a giant overgrown scallion.

The white portion is what’s commonly eaten. To encourage that portion of the stalk to stay white and tender, dirt is piled up around the stalk as it’s growing. The result is dirt between the layers of the leek where you can’t see it from the outside. To clean a leek, first cut off the white roots from the bottom end:

leek shown on cutting board with root trimmed

leek with root trimmed


Next, trim the dark green leaves from the top and cut the leek in half:

leek with dark green leaves trimmed from the top shown on cutting board

leek with dark green leaves trimmed from the top


Very likely, dirt will be hiding between the layers of the stalk:

leek shown with layers separated

where dirt can hide in between the layers of the leek

To remove the dirt, separate the layers a little without pulling the leek completely apart while running the leek under water in the sink. Now the leek is ready to be chopped:

leek shown on cutting board with part of stalk chopped

leek with stalk partially chopped

Now you know how to get the leek clean and ready to use. Enjoy it in a soup or stock.


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