Lemon Leek Sauce… versatile and so yum! At my house, the onion is an essential ingredient. Ok, that’s a mild description. Let’s try this again. If I ask my husband to make something to eat and he discovers we are out of onions, he would look like a desperate man who has been asked to walk the plank. So, in my house, an onion is King! Leeks?!!! The Leek (Allium ampeloprasum) is the Kings cousin.
What are Leeks?!!!
Leeks belong to the same family as the onion, garlic, and shallots. One of the many new vegetables that I fell in love with, in the United States. And no wonder it is always a hit at the dinner table.
History of the Leek
It is consumed a lot by Europeans especially the French people, whose culture I have fallen in love with at culinary school. From being an essential ingredient in a traditional bouquet garni or an aromatic for basic stocks, soups, and stews, this humble vegetable shines. The culinary world has once again woken up to its many properties and there are many dishes where the Leek is the star.
“Humble” though is the wrong word. Leeks have been consumed by royalty for ages. In fact, it is said that King Nero ate it at every meal, believing that it had medicinal properties to enhance the quality of his voice. It is also one of the National emblems of Wales.
Where to find Leeks?
I love going to Farmers markets and the sight of these plump overgrown scallions (that’s what I thought they looked like when I first saw them), makes me want to dance a jig. They are sweet, with a mild and delicate onion flavor that are a treat for your senses and makes your tongue sigh in pleasure.
Leeks are a cool season crop, though they are found year around these days. You will usually see them making their appearance at the Farmers market in late September, reach their peak in January and fade away in May.
You will also find them at more grocery stores throughout the year. Though they are as any produce best during their peak seasons.
How to pick Leeks?
Look at the picture above. Pick leeks that are mostly white and light green. They will have dark green stalks at the top. You will see that during leek season, fall to early winter, they will have less dark green tops.
Don’t pick ones that ar- mostly dark green or whithered and yellowish.
How to cook Leeks?
Leeks are so versatile. You can braise and reduce it in chicken/vegetable broth and make a beautiful glaze paired with roasted chicken, stew them with thick chunks of carrots and peas to eat a hearty soul-satisfying one pot meal (Don’t forget the bread!), roast them to caramelize and release that beautiful sweetness and top a salad or just shave them as a garnish to enhance any dish.
Lemon-Leek Sauce Recipe
I wanted to pay homage to this versatile vegetable and so was born the Lemon Leek sauce. Why sauce? For me, a sauce is rich in taste and as versatile as the leek. This simple recipe for the creamy lemon-flavored leek sauce with a hint of parsley is perfect for pasta or as a dip for appetizers. Make it rich with cream or substitute it with a milk of your choice for a low-calorie version. Use other herbs like rosemary or thyme instead of parsley.
Pair it with a smooth dry white wine like a Chardonnay or a refreshingly crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy and let me know how much you liked it.
Note: This recipe uses the white fleshy part of the leek. Don’t throw away the dark green parts. Use it to make your own stock. It is absolutely flavorful!
Serving Suggestion: Mint Linguine with Lemon-Leek Sauce
There is no other word to describe it - "just yum". Totally lick-worthy!
- 3 TBSB Olive Oil
- 450 grams Leeks approx 2 medium leeks
- 1/2 TBSB Garlic minced, approx 3-4 cloves
- 125 ml Vegetable Stock approx 1/2 Cup
- 50 ml Milk approx 1/4 Cup
- 2 TBSB Lemon juice
- 50 grams Parsley finely chopped (hacher), approx 1/2 Cup
- 1/2 TBSB Salt adjust to your taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper freshly ground
- 25 ml Fresh Cream approx 1/8 Cup
Slit the leeks lengthwise and rinse them under running water. Don't miss this step. Leeks trap soil between their folds so it is essential to wash them thoroughly. Slice the white parts in 1/4 inch thickness. Reserve the dark green parts for soups or stocks.
In a medium size, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the Leeks and Garlic. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the Vegetable/Chicken Stock and Milk. Cook till the Leeks are tender. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Return the puree back to the skillet. Simmer the sauce. Add Cream ( or Milk again) and a little water to achieve the desired consistency. The sauce should be thick but spreadable for a dip and a bit more loose for mixing with pasta.
Turn off the heat and add Lemon juice. Transfer to a heatproof container and line the top with plastic wrap to avoid the formation of skin or use immediately.
Optional: Swirl in 2 Tablespoons of cubed cold Butter (off heat) for an extra rich sauce.
Storage: Keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer without cream. Add the cream when reheating it.
If freezing, bring it to room temperature before reheating. I like to take it out of the freezer and keep it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating it.