THE BLOG

How to Make the Most of Leek Season

05/19/2015 05:33 EDT | Updated 05/19/2016 05:59 EDT
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I've become kind of simple in my old age. After writing my cookbook I began to shy away (read: run like a screaming maniac with my arms waving frantically over my head) from recipes that have multiple options and lots of ingredients because that meant more editing.

What I do know is that in the seven years that I have been creating recipes, I have learned how to simplify things down to the bare minimum. In fact, I have done this with life. Simple is sweet. Simple allows us to taste the individual flavours of food and of life. And when I'm busy, having one less ingredient to measure means the food gets to the table faster, and this recipe gets posted faster.

Meghan Telpner harvesting leeks

There is nothing better than fresh picked ingredients and there is nothing quite as special as the first wild foods that make themselves known after the snow has melted.

And so, as its become an annual affair here -- this is my yearly wild leek (also known as ramp) love letter.

Wild Leek Harvest

Wild leeks combine the best of culinary flavours. They taste a little like garlic and a little like onion and are sweet all over.

It is ideal to harvest only what you need when it comes to wild foods and once they are picked from the ground, they won't last too long. The best thing is to go straight from field or forest to table.

And if harvesting your own food sounds like just plain silliness to you, be sure to check your local markets. This is the season here in Canada and the Northeastern United States -- and it doesn't last long. These baby dolls are wild. They sprout up when they're ready and die when it's time.

Wild Leek Bulbs

And so today, I am going to share my three favourite and simple ways to preserve and prepare wild leeks.

After Harvest

  • Clean the bulbs and snip off the roots. Toss those back outside. Ideally, as you are only taking what you need, if you only need the leaves, just pluck the leaves. If you are taking the bulbs too, harvest from several different areas to avoid over harvesting.
  • Rinse to remove any soil.
  • Decide what you will do with them. As they won't last long in their raw form, I recommend dehydrating, freezing, preserving or preparing straight away.

Dehydrated Wild Leeks: Wild Leek Powder

Wild Leek Powder

  • Take your cleaned and prepped wild leeks and put them in your dehydrator at 115 degrees for four to six hours until fully dry.
  • You can then crush them by hand or run through your spice grinder to create an amazing wild leek powder that can be added to whatever you're cooking, in the same way you'd add salt or garlic powder.
  • A nice touch is to mix your powdered dried leeks with salt and use it as a seasoning salt. So good!

Preserve in Brine/Vinegar

Preserved Leek bulbs

  • Separate the bulbs from the greens.
  • Add to a clean mason jar and top up with apple cider vinegar.
  • Allow to sit for three to four months. These are an amazing treat to open up in the fall and enjoy through the winter until wild leek season arrives again.

You can also preserve using this pickling method.

Simple Wild Leek Pesto

Wild Leek Pesto Recipe 2

This was the best batch of wild leek pesto I have made. I was limited by the ingredients I had and so it was super quick and clean. We literally harvested the leeks and had this on the table within an hour.

Wild Leek Pesto Recipe 3

Simple Wild Leek Pesto

A simple wild leek pesto that makes the most of this fresh, wild spring food.

Recipe Type: Condiment

Author: Meghan Telpner

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed wild leek leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cashews or sunflower seeds
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop the leek leaves.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium heat and lightly saute leeks. This is optional. You can also skip this step and keep them raw.
  3. Add leeks, remaining oil, nuts/seeds of choice and salt into your high speed blender or food processor and process until well mixed but maintain some texture.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

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