Leeks belong to the allium family and, in my opinion, are an underappreciated vegetable.
One reason why people shy away from leeks is that they tend to gather sand and dirt between their layers of skin as they push up through the ground. If they aren’t properly cleaned, that grit could easily ruin a dish! But, as long as you know this and clean them properly (it’s easy – here’s how) you will come to love the sweet and subtle onion flavor that leeks add to dishes.
Leeks are supposed to store well over the winter in a root cellar, but I have never had luck with that approach and have tried many variations. Instead, I freeze leeks and they are great to have handy throughout the colder months.
The safest way to make sure you get all of the dirt out of leeks before freezing is to slice them down the middle lengthwise and then cut them into half-moon slices about 3/4 of an inch thick. Put them into a big bowl of cold water and swish them around vigorously. I usually do this a second time for good measure. Then, let them drain and dry on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Only when they are completely dry should you put them into a zippered plastic freezer bag, push out as much air as possible and zip it up and store them in the freezer.
Frozen leeks are awesome for adding to soups and stews in the winter such as this super simple and wonderful classic Potato-Leek Soup from Julia Child, but are equally good as the star in a dish such as this Potato-Leek Gratin from the New York Times.
Below is a picture showing how the dirt gets lodged in between the layers of the leek.
If you are going to be eating the leeks fresh, try making them the star of a veggie side dish such as is done in Buttery Braised Leeks with a Crispy Panko Topping from Food 52. Or, if you are looking to dress up your leeks, try this Savory Creme Brulee with a Crispy Leek Topping also from Food 52.