Are you wondering if you can eat raw leeks? They smell and look like onions, and onions can definitely be eaten raw, so what is the deal with raw leeks?
Leeks and onions have a ton of similarities.
In fact, leeks are extremely popular in Romania and used in some common staple dishes. However, cooking leeks may not seem like a big deal but eating them raw – is that even possible?
Let’s dig into everything you need to know about raw leeks.
Can You Eat Raw Leeks?
Here’s the answer you have all been waiting for: yes, leeks can be eaten raw.
Compared to onions, they are milder and sweeter, making them a great vegetable to use in salads. However, compared to green onions, leeks have a more fibrous texture.
Since raw leeks are not as strong as onions, they can also be eaten at breakfast (1).
Onions may make your breath stink because of their strength, but this is not the case with leeks. Of course, they still smell like onions, so we wouldn’t recommend having too many if you are going on a date right after.
Before you eat leeks, you must clean them well. Like other vegetables and plants, leeks are treated with chemicals and pesticides to preserve them.
Moreover, dirt can be hidden in the leaves, so you must be extra cautious.
Can You Eat Baby Leeks?
Baby leeks can also be consumed, and if you want to have your leeks raw, we recommend using baby leeks rather than regular leeks.
Baby leeks are also great for cooking.
However, they are harder to find in the local market and can be more expensive than regular leeks. If this is not an issue for you, baby leeks are better since they have a superior texture and taste.
What Part of Leeks Can be Eaten?
When eating leeks, you will enjoy eating the white bulb and the light green parts. The dark green leaves can also be consumed, but they do not taste like the other parts of the leeks.
The texture of these leaves can get annoyed because they are leathery and thin and do not provide much flavor.
Leeks are bulbous vegetables which is why their roots look like strings.
This part of the leeks mustn’t be eaten or cooked. Instead, cut them off and throw them in the trash before storing them in your fridge.
If you don’t like the earthy taste and texture, we recommend cutting off the bulb when it connects with the roots. This is the part with a darker color than the bulb, so you should be able to figure it out quite quickly.
Choosing Good Leeks
If you like eating your leeks raw, you need to ensure you know all the tricks and tips to choose the right ones from your local farmer’s market.
Here is what you need to remember:
- Choose the leeks that have more light green or white parks. These are the parts that are edible and point to how fresh the leeks are. These kinds will last longer in the fridge without going bad and will also taste fresh.
- Do not pick leeks that have some sort of discoloration or spots. This indicates that the leeks will go rotten fast and have not been stored well.
- Even though baby leeks are the best to eat raw, if you cannot find them, look for the smallest leeks. Small leeks are always tender, and the chances of them being fresher than the rest are always higher.
- The bulb and leaves of the leeks should be fresh and crisp. Eating raw leeks that taste mushy and soft is probably the something you want to avoid at any cost.
How to Clean Leeks Before Consuming Them
When leeks are grown, a large quantity of soil is piled around to ensure that the sun’s rays do not damage them. This method also helps lighten the leeks in color, making them tender and fresher in texture.
Here are some swift ways to clean your leeks before you consume them:
Step 1: Trim the Roots
Most of the dirt is found at the bottom of the leeks, so the first step is to get rid of the base. This can be done by carefully trimming the roots off. It is crucial that you stay as cautious as possible during this step as the white parts of the leeks should not be cut off.
Step 2: Wash the Dark Green Parts
To thoroughly wash the parts of the leeks, make a cut through the dark green leaves- the cut should be made from the part where the dark green starts to blend into light green.
Open up the leaves carefully till you can see the insides of the leeks. Keep the water running and rinse the leeks thoroughly till all the dirt is removed and the water starts to run clean.
Step 3: Trim and Cut
Start by cutting the top of the leaves. The darkened part needs to be removed but remember to leave an inch of the leaves on top. Using your knife, cut in the center of the dark green part until your leeks have been divided into two halves.
Once done, your leeks can be cooked. If you think the base is still too tough, a couple of layers can be peeled off to reveal the fleshier area. If you find dirt on the leeks while doing this, rinse them using running water.
Step 4: Slice, Wash and Rinse Again
If you are preparing a dish like a salad that requires smaller pieces of leeks, start slicing them into long strips or rings, depending on what you would prefer.
Put the sliced leeks in some cold water and use a spoon to swish the water back and forth. Get a strainer and dump the leeks in. Then, use more water to rinse the leeks for the last time.
Don’t forget to dry the leeks. You can use a salad spinner or a paper towel to do this.
What to Do with Leeks?
Now that you have learned that you can eat raw leeks, you might be wondering what your other options for consuming leeks might be.
Here are some great ideas to help you incorporate leeks into your diet:
Even though salads use raw leeks, we would like to emphasize using leeks in your salad since this is one of the greatest ways to use them.
Trust us when we say that leeks will change your salad game completely.
Leeks are a wonderful option depending on whether you like a strong onion taste or a milder taste of onion in your soup. Fans of mild onion taste can enjoy making leek soup – a wonderful, comfort dish that can be eaten any time during the year.
Omelets can get boring very fast, which is why many people like to try new ingredients with their eggs from time to time. Using leeks in your eggs is a great way to use the leeks in your fridge.
You must chop the leeks into small pieces and use a pan to sauté them lightly before adding them to your omelet.
4. Pasta / Risotto
The secret behind making a unique pasta dish is adding some onion. If you do not like the taste of strong onions and want your pasta or risotto to taste less overwhelming, baby leeks are a wonderful option to use.
You can also use them to garnish your dish for some aesthetic!
Regardless of the kind of food you are making, leeks are a wonderful stuffing ingredient to use. Squash, stuffed pepper, and stuffed turkey work well with leeks.
Trust us when we say that you can never go wrong with these dishes as long as you add some leeks.
Can Leeks Be Used Instead of Onions?
You can use leeks to substitute onions if you want to eat them raw or use them in cooked food because of how similar the two vegetables taste.
However, keep in mind that leeks are not as moist as onions, so they will fry like green onions rather than ordinary ones.
Moreover, leeks do not have the same spiciness and sharpness as scallions or onions.
Hence, if you are cooking food for a large gathering of people and are unsure what they would prefer, leeks are a safer option to use in your food.
Foods that require a stronger taste of onion will not taste the same if you use leeks. You can use leeks, but if you are not careful, you might ruin a good dish completely.
If someone in your family doesn’t prefer the spicy taste of onions, use leeks to substitute them, but we recommend keeping onions in your house for certain kinds of food to be careful.
Are Leeks Good for the Human Body?
Leeks help detoxify the liver and improve liver function. Leeks are loaded with sulfur compounds that help fight toxins and get rid of them from the human body.
This is why doctors recommend consuming leeks to lower liver damage (2).
To sum it all up, leeks can be eaten raw, but you must be okay with the fibrous texture that comes with them.
Apart from this little detail, leeks are safe to eat as long as they are washed well and you get rid of all the bad parts like the root and dark green leaves from the top.
Use your leeks in salads and cooked food but do not always substitute them for onions if it is not necessary. They might lower the intensity of some foods but make other dishes taste weird, so there is no real guarantee.