Leeks are a versatile vegetable that are a member of the onion family, but with a much milder flavour and a leafier texture. They can be served sauteed lightly as a vegetable side dish or used in a wide variety of soups, casseroles and entrees.
If you’re interested in Welsh history, culture, heritage or food, you should know that the leek is the national vegetable of Wales! The other countries of the UK don’t have a national vegetable, but a national flower (we have a flower too, the daffordil!), but here in Wales the leek is one of our national emblems, and it’s used for a variety of Welsh dishes. The history of the leek in Wales is fascinating; it’s mentioned as a national emblem by William Shakespeare and in the Tudor dynasty leeks were worn on St David’s Day (1st March). Going back even further, soldiers are said to have worn leeks to identify them in battle. We don’t really know what the exact origins are, but there are plenty of leeks grown in Wales, and they’re delicious, so no complaints here.
I want to share with you 20 easy and healthy recipes that use leeks. These aren’t specifically Welsh recipes, but excellent ways to use this Welsh emblem and create a delicious dish the whole family will enjoy.
I’ve also marked the recipe title with V for Vegetarian, Ve for Vegan and GF for Gluten Free.
1. Cheese Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Leeks, V, GF
This is a deeply satisfying risotto, made with riced cauliflower, caramelized leeks for sweetness and cheddar cheese for a rich and creamy taste. It’s packed full of protein and suitable for vegetarians, but low carb and very healthy. It takes just 10 minute prep and 30 minutes cook time, so it’s a quick and easy lunch or dinner.
2. Asparagus Ends and Leek Soup, Ve, GF
This is a fantastic soup for food waste as it uses the asparagus ends that you might usually snap off and not get much use out of. You can save all your asparagus ends over time until you’ve got enough to make this delicious, thick and textured soup. In addition to asparagus it’s made with leeks and the leeks and asparagus go amazingly together. It takes just 15 minutes prep and 15 minutes cook time, so you’ve got a filling gluten free, vegan lunch or starter within 30 minutes.
3. Mushroom, Leek, and Goat Cheese Tart, V
This delicious, creamy tart looks impressive and is super simple to make. If you’re not keen on making your own pastry, you can use pre-bought rolled pastry as the base, meaning you can prep this in just 10 minutes then pop it in the oven. Fantastic as a starter, a side, or even a main. Vegetarian and you can make this gluten free by using gluten free pastry too.
4. Irish Colcannon with Kale and Leeks, V, GF
I love traditional Irish recipes and Colcannon is one of my favourites. This is a buttery, smooth mashed potato, traditionally made with cabbage, an Irish staple. I love the idea of blending Irish and Welsh food – Leeks and Kale make an interesting twist, full of flavour and super healthy. It’s super easy to make and can be used as a side accompaniment for almost any dish. The prep time is 15 minutes and cook time 35 minutes.
5. French Leek Salad
This super simple salad is a French classic starter called “poireaux vinaigrette”. It is incredibly healthy, gluten free and vegan and will only take a few minutes to prepare, and 10 minutes to cool in a steamer.
6. Easy Cheesy Leeks, V
What an amazing side or vegetarian main. This dish adds a delicious creamy cheese sauce to leeks, complimenting the flavours with mustard, nutmeg and Italian herbs. Although the recipe calls for flour and breadcrumbs, these could easily be replaced with gluten free alternatives.
7. Sweet Potato, Bacon and Leek Quiche
This recipe from Kidgredients is ideal for the whole family. It’s freezer friendly, ideal for a packed lunch or picnic, great hot or cold and easy to make with store bought pastry, which can be replaced with gluten free pastry as well. With sweet potato, leeks and bacon, it’s packed full of nutrition.
8. Creamy Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken, GF
Just a short amount of prep and then this Creamy Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with Leeks can spend the day cooking whilst you’re working or out with the kids. It’s easy to cook in batches and can make a healthy lunch for the whole week. It uses coconut cream so is dairy free and is naturally gluten free as long as your broth is gluten free. For a full meal you could serve this with rice, pasta or potato as it’s very versatile.
9. Mushroom, Leek, and Prosciutto Pizza
This pizza has leeks, mushrooms, mozzarella, goat cheese and prosciutto toppings, with a kick of flavour from red pepper flakes.
10. Chicken and Leek Patchwork Pie
This amazing pie has leeks, chicken, peas, broccoli in a creamy sauce, topped with patchwork pastry. This is so filling and so delicious and easy to make a large pie for several meals. The puff pastry topping can be replaced with gluten free pastry, the flour with gluten free flour and the thickening sauce with cornflour to make this gluten free.
Bouillabaisse is a humble fisherman’s stew, traditionally made in France with leftover fish. This recipe is for a New England Bouillabaisse, but you can adapt this to any region by buying local fish. Here in the UK we have lots of locally farmed fish, as well as imported fish, so you should have no problem finding fresh ingredients. It’s an unusual dish, but so amazingly tasty, and easy to make in large quantities and freeze.
12. Halloumi Stroganoff, GF, V
This thick and creamy stroganoff includes halloumi, peas, mushrooms and leeks. It’s gluten free and vegetarian.
13. Smoked Mackerel on a Leek Stew, GF
Smoked mackerel is very inexpensive, available all year around, and you can buy it tinned, with a very long best by date. You might not think that it makes a delicious meal, but it really does, and is a meat we shouldn’t just ignore. This recipe pairs it with a leek stew made of leeks, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Gluten free too!
14. Vegan Potato Hash, Ve, GF
This vegan potato hash includes crunchy potatoes, leeks and thyme and adds a vegan chicken, broccoli and sprouts. Classic but simple.
15. Buttered Sauteed Leeks
Simple yet delicious, this sauteed leek recipe will make the perfect starter or side for any dish and only takes 15 minutes to prep AND cook!
16. Chicken and Leek Pie
This creamy chicken and leek pie is topped with puff pastry and looks amazing! If you want to make it gluten free you can by replacing the puff pastry with gluten free puff pastry.
17. Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Leeks and Prosciutto, GF
The use of leeks in this Pork Tenderloin recipe is subtle but so tasty. This is a delicious and impressive main centerpiece that the whole family is going to love.
18. Toasted Angel Hair Pasta with Crab and Habanero Cream Sauce
This dish is a bit of a show stopper, with complex flavours, including leeks and lemons. I was very impressed with this recipe and I think anyone you serve it to is going to be awed by your culinary skills and flavours. It only takes about 45 minutes to make, and ingredients such as Angel Hair Pasta can be found at wholefood shops, places like Waitrose and some other supermarkets or you could easily buy it online at Amazon.
19. Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup. GF, V
If you don’t have an instant pot than I can highly recommend the Instant Pot Duo 7 in 1 which combines pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute pan, yoghurt maker, steamer and food warmer and is usually around the £65 price mark! This potato leek soup will be very cheap to make and could keep you going in lunches all week. It’s gluten free (just make sure your broth is gluten free) and vegetarian. It takes just 15 minutes of prep before you pop it in the instant pot.
20. Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup, GF, Ve
My last share is another soup recipe, this time with cauliflower. It’s easy to make and comes in at just 58 calories per serving so makes for a lovely light lunch or starter. It’s vegan and also gluten free as long as you check your vegetable stock.
I hope that these 20 delicious recipes that contain leeks have given you an appetite and some ideas for what you can cook with leeks. Whether you’re just looking to experiment, love the flavour or leeks, or want to celebrate the national vegetable of Wales for something like St David’s Day, something here is bound to suit.
Please share your favourite recipe from this list – or your own recipe! – in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.