Roasted leeks become wonderfully caramelized and have a mellow, almost sweet flavor. They make a wonderful side dish for meats and fish, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for several days.
My mother-in-law makes an amazing quiche with leeks. That's how I first got acquainted with this very interesting vegetable. It looks like a huge green onion, and it has an onion-like flavor, but it's milder, making it appropriate as a side dish and not just as a condiment.
The best thing about roasting leeks in the oven is that baking them mellows their onion flavor, caramelizes them, and brings out their natural sweetness. They are very, very good and they go well with just about any main course you can think of.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty side dish. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Fresh leeks: They look just like giant green onions. I wasn't familiar with them in the past, but it's easy to spot them in the store once you know what to look for!
Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. But if you'd rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Grated Parmesan: It's best to use finely grated cheese and not coarsely shredded in this recipe.
How to roast leeks
I like to bake them in the oven. It's an easy cooking method, and it makes the leeks wonderfully caramelized. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by trimming the leeks. Then you cut them in half lengthwise, rinse and dry. Next, you coat them with olive oil (be generous!) and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Bake them in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle them with parmesan and continue baking until golden brown, about 10 more minutes.
Expert tip: caramelize them!
The baking times listed here are merely a suggestion. The idea is to cook the leeks until they are browned and caramelized. That's when they lose their sharpness and become wonderfully sweet and flavorful. So when you pull them out of the oven, if they're not golden brown, put them back in for a few more minutes, until they become caramelized.
Frequently asked questions
Leeks look like oversized green onions. When raw, their flavor resembles the flavor of shallots, although they are sweeter and more delicate.
Leeks are not usually eaten raw, although you could slice the bulb very thinly and add it to salads. Cooking them in the oven mellows their onion flavor, caramelizes them, and brings out a wonderful sweetness. Roasted leeks taste very different than raw ones - just like baked onions are very different than raw onions.
They theoretically are, but the leaves are so tough and fibrous that they are usually discarded. You could, however, wash them well and add them to a soup for flavor. But I would still discard them after cooking.
First, you cut off the leaves, leaving just the white bulb and the light green part. Next, slice off the hairy bottom. Now, cut the bulb in half lengthwise. It will likely hide dirt inside its folds, so rinse it well, then dry it off before roasting.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- Use avocado oil or melted ghee instead of olive oil.
- Add a sprinkle of garlic powder in addition to salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the cooked leeks with red pepper flakes for color and a hint of spice.
Suggested main courses
I often serve roasted leeks with fish. They make a great side dish to baked catfish. And when you make these two dishes together, you can keep the oven at 425°F for both, baking the fish just 5 minutes longer.
Leftovers keep well when stored in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power, or serve them cold like antipasti.
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Roasted Leeks with Olive Oil and Parmesan
- 6 leeks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Trim the hairy bottom of the white part of the leeks. Trim the dark greens, leaving the white and light green part only.
- Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then rinse them well (there’s often dirt trapped in there) and dry. Arrange them in a 9 X 13 baking dish, cut side down.
- Drizzle the leeks with the olive oil and use your hands to thoroughly coat them. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- Roast them for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn so that their cut side is up, sprinkle with the Parmesan, then continue roasting until fork-tender and golden brown, about 10 more minutes.