Ever been in a situation where you’re about to make a dish containing leeks in the recipe but can’t find any? Most people would get frustrated and try to terminate the whole process. This shouldn’t always be the case, especially when it isn’t the main focus of the recipe.
Some other vegetables can work as good replacements for leek that would also deliver that sweet, mild onion flavor to your soup, stew, or sauce. I’ve pieced together some useful substitutes in this article.
What are Leeks?
A leek is a vegetable related to the onion, with overlapping leaves and an elongated cylindrical bulb shape. The bundle of leaf sheaths or the stem, which are white and light green, are the most edible parts of the plant. Although the upper darker part of the plant can add some flavor to your dish, it is tough to chew.
The cultivation of leeks can be traced back to the middle ages when it was widely cultivated in Western Europe and eventually carried to North America by early European settlers. But a report from Randy Baker in 1991 suggests that leek originated in middle Asia.
Leeks Nutrition Facts
Uses of Leeks in Recipes
The vegetable’s white and light green parts are commonly used in most recipes. However, the darker part can also be used if you have some patience to cook them until they become softer thoroughly. Unlike onions, leeks provide a delicate, more subtle flavor when incorporated into a dish. Since leeks are milder in taste, they are sometimes eaten raw or finely chopped to serve as toppings or used in salads. Some recipes that include leeks;
- Salmon and leek parcels
- Buttered leeks
- Cheesy leeks and bacon pasta
- Leek, cheddar, and bacon loaf sandwich
- Sausage and leek mash pie
- Creamy chicken, bean, and leek traybake
- Creamy leek, pesto, and squash pie
- Sausage and leek mash pie
- Leek, cheese, and bacon tart
- Pea and leek super green tart
- Leek, ricotta and gruyère tart
- Crab and leek pasties
- Leek, cheese, and potato pasties
- Leek, mushroom, and goat’s cheese strudels
- Leek and mustard vinaigrette with Carmarthen ham.
Substitute for Leeks
When making a dish that specifically calls for a large number of leeks, then it is advisable to use leeks for such meals strictly. Still, if you’re making a dish where our sweet leek isn’t the star of the show. So, if you are all out of leeks or want to try something new, there is some substitute for leeks that would still give that mild, sweet onion flavor to your soup, stew, or sauce.
Shallot is also an onion family member, but they are much milder and sweeter than most. Shallots can easily replace leeks in your food with the delicate and sweet flavor that leek possesses. Although shallots have more spice, it isn’t overpowering enough to alter the taste of your food when cooked.
Raw shallots can also be used as a salad dressing, and they have green tops that can serve as seasoning or garnishment for your dish when fresh. Shallots also contain vitamin C and vitamin B6 while having hints of iron and magnesium. So the next time you run out of leeks, but you have some shallots left, you can use them without thinking twice. They are similar in flavor, so use the same measurements when substituting.
As the name suggests, this variety of onions is not intense; it has a sweeter, milder flavor, often attributed to their high water content. Like shallots, sweet onions are good substitutes for leeks because of their mild flavors. They are also better than leeks for salads or garnishes. They are good for your soup or sauce because they don’t disturb the taste of the food. Instead, use the same value when substituting.
At first glance, you may think leeks and spring onions are the same things. They share similar characteristics, like a white stem and a dark green top. Most spring onions have a much larger bulb or stem than leeks. This leek lookalike has a fresh, sweet, and subtly spicy flavor, and both the stem and the top can be eaten. And because of its fresh taste, it is ideal for consuming raw or cooked.
You should include the darker green tops for more flavor when cooked, as it is more flavored than the white bulbs. Use 1 cup of chopped spring onions to substitute 1 cup of chopped leeks.
Green Onion or Scallions
They may look like baby leeks with the same green top and white stem, but they are a different onion variation and can substitute for leeks. But scallions have a sharp, somewhat spicy, peppery flavor, but it is milder than white or yellow onions. You can use scallions as leeks substitute in soup because they are overpowering in flavor and substitute with a reduced quantity when cooking.
When eaten raw, it has a somewhat spicy and powerful pungent taste. It is ideal for cooking before eating, so it may not make a good replacement for leeks in salads, but you can use them in soups. It will give your soup more flavor than the mild taste of leeks, and garlic has been linked to many health benefits, including improved blood pressure. Use a reduced amount when substituted because of the strong flavor it possesses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How much is one leek chopped?
One chopped raw leek equals one large size leek or one and a half medium size leek.
Can I use celery as a leek substitute?
Although they may not be directly related to leeks, you can use chopped celery as a replacement for leeks, the flavor may be different, but it is widely accepted.
One leek equals how many onions?
The measurements should be the same if you want to use leeks as a substitute for onions. One cup of chopped onions equals one cup of chopped leeks.
It is common to run out of leeks, given that many grocery stores don’t carry them for too long because it isn’t a fast-selling vegetable. So, the shelf life of this greenery is not too good, so it is always ideal to have alternatives for them. You never know when you may need them.