How To Cut Leeks Before Stuffing Them

Onions are without a doubt quite popular in the culinary world. But in spite of onions' popularity in everyday dining, leeks hardly get the recognition they so rightfully deserve. Described as fresh and mild when raw and sweet and tender when cooked, leeks may get lost in the shuffle as more of a complementary ingredient to many cozy and hearty recipes — like a potato leek soup — but they really can hold their own perfectly well as the primary feature of a dish.


Stuffed leeks, much like stuffed peppers, are usually filled with a mixture of meat, rice, herbs, and spices, combining different flavors and textures in an undeniably satisfying way. You may also forego the meat for a tasty vegetarian dish. Yet, unlike simply coring a bell pepper, it's important to understand exactly how to cut your leeks before you stuff them. What parts of the leek do you use? What are the different methods of cutting them? Knowing these answers will ensure your stuffed leeks taste (and look) their best.

The triangle method

You want the best part of your leeks to be showcased alongside your filling. To achieve this, you'll need to chop off the roots at the bottom as well as the dark green tops. Both of these sections are essentially inedible on their own but can be used later in a stock or sauté. Once those pieces are cut and set aside, be sure to rinse your leeks thoroughly to make sure you clear away any dirt that may have snuck into them.


There are two schools of thought when it comes to how you might cut your leeks for stuffing them. These are what we'll call the triangle method and the tube method. For the triangle method, slice a slit into your leeks lengthwise and peel off the outer layers. The smaller inside pieces can be chopped and used for your filling. Once that's been done, place a hearty spoonful of filling onto the bottom of the layer and fold it diagonally, making a triangle shape. Continue this process until you've reached the top, tucking any excess into the folds you've created.


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The tube method

Another method is to use the outer shells of the leeks as tubes. Once the tops and roots have been cut off, chop your leeks into sections about four inches long. From here, you've also got two options. One is to remove the inside of the leek by gently pressing it out with your fingers, leaving two or three outer layers for a uniform shape. Think of this as essentially a leek-tube cannelloni. This method will keep your leeks structurally sound for a neat presentation and clean cutting. However, this comes at the cost of making them somewhat harder to stuff compared to the next option.


For an easier filling experience, cut a slit into your leeks and peel the outer few layers off, just like the first steps in the triangle method above. Like the triangle method, you'll place filling on the bottom portion of each leek sheet. But instead of folding them into triangles, simply roll them into tightly packed tubes. The benefit of this choice is that you can more easily pack as much filling into your leeks as you see fit. But, since you're only using one leek layer per roll, the end product will end up less durable and more reminiscent of the texture of cabbage rolls. Whichever of these you choose, the tube method will yield a delicious rustic dish.


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With several different methods of properly cutting and stuffing leeks, which will you try first? Leeks are an often underused and versatile food so making a tray of stuffed leeks is the perfect way to use these delicious vegetables.