When I want to make a good soup, leeks are one of my main ingredients. Leeks are milder than onions but add great flavors to plenty of dishes. However, this vegetable can be expensive and bulky, so knowing what to use instead is always a good idea.
What Are Leeks?
This large green vegetable is a member of the genus Allium, which also contains onions, garlic, scallions, shallots, and chives.
The bulb in this vegetable is long and white, and the green leaves are the tastiest part, but you can eat the entire thing if you want to. Leeks can be boiled, grilled, braised, roasted, or fried.
If you overcook leeks, they will turn mushy and slimy, so be sure to measure the cooking time well. This also means that when cooking leeks in soups, stews, or pasta, you’ll want to add them towards the end of the cooking time.
Leeks taste milder than onions, and they are slightly sweet.
Depending on where you live, leeks are a bit expensive, but they tend to be available year-round. Leeks have a very strong aroma, so you should wrap them in plastic to prevent the smell from damaging other items in your refrigerator.
Leeks are also a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including antioxidants that help protect your body against disease and stress.
What Can I Replace Leeks With?
Since this vegetable can be expensive and hard to cook, these substitutes for leeks may come in handy for your future dishes:
For Soup, Quiche, and Casserole
While onions have a stronger and more pungent flavor, they work well when you want to substitute leeks. You should try sauteing onions before you use them, as this releases the flavors and softens the texture. Use onions for soups, quiche, casseroles, and salads.
You can find onions anywhere, but we suggest you pick yellow onions, as these are closer in flavor to leeks. Substitute one leek with one whole onion, but make sure to let them cook enough time.
See More: Onions Substitutes
Although shallots taste less like onions and a bit more like garlic, they are a good replacement for leeks in certain dishes. Shallots should be easy to find and use, but you may want to add half more of what the recipe indicates for more flavor.
The flavor of shallots may be milder, but it is also different and slightly more pungent, so you want to make sure it goes well with your dish.
Use shallots when preparing quiche, tartines, casseroles, and in some soups. Make sure to give shallots enough time to cook as well, though they taste great raw.
See More: Shallots Alternatives
#3. Sweet Onions
Sweet onions can be a good way to substitute leeks and add a hint of sweetness and pungency. You can chop a couple of onions in place of one leek and use it when you make stews, soups, quiche, and casseroles.
Sweet onions are extremely cheap and easy to find, so they can make for a great alternative when you want to save money.
Take into account that sweet onions do taste like onions, so you may want to taste them before you add them to your dish. For sweet onions to truly impart their flavor, they are better off raw or a bit uncooked, but you can add them towards the end of the cooking process.
For Curry, Pasta, and Potato Dishes
Don’t rule out celery just because it is fibrous and tastes different. This vegetable works great in dishes like potato salad, curry, stews, and soups. Keep in mind that celery turns very mushy when you cook it for a while, so it is best used raw.
Some people find the flavor of celery to be too strong, and others find the vegetable sort of innocuous. You may want to use about half the amount or mix it with onions as well.
#5. Onion Powder
Despite this not being an actual vegetable, this seasoning can be a great alternative when you want to prepare sauces, curry, pasta, and potato dishes. Plus, using onion powder is a great way to reduce costs. You can use about ½ teaspoon of onion powder for every ½ cup of leeks.
You should keep in mind that onion powder sometimes also contains salt mixed in, so you may want to reduce the salt you use in your dish. This substitution also lasts longer than any other on this list, so it is a good ingredient to keep handy.
See More: Onion Powder Replacements
Since garlic is a family member of the onion and leek family, it makes sense to add it to the list. Garlic is pungent and strong, but it can make a dish memorable when you use the right amount.
You can use garlic in virtually any dish, but some like curry, potatoes, pasta, and vegetables are perfect.
We suggest you use fresh garlic, about one clove for every one leek, but you can also use mashed garlic. Another thing to consider here is that garlic doesn’t add texture or crunch, so this may alter your final dish.
See More: Garlic Powder Substitutes
#7. Red Onions
Red onions are the last choice because their flavor is very intense and so is their aroma. However, you can use red onions when you prepare things like salads, potato, curry, or dips.
These onions are better used fresh, but you can always cook them in a bit of olive oil for a short period.
Use about half the amount in any of the dishes that require leeks, especially because the flavor can overpower it. Another thing to remember is that red onions may alter the final color of your dish.
You can replace one with the other, but they are not the same. Onions are much more pungent and strong, while leeks are a bit more delicate and sweet. However, when used together or separately, they work great.
These two vegetables aren’t the same, but they do look similar. Leeks contain a small bulb that isn’t normally eaten, while spring onions are often consumed whole. Leeks are also much bigger than spring onions, and they are milder in flavor.
Yes, you can eat leeks raw. Some people prefer the texture after cooking for a few minutes, but the truth is, this vegetable is very good used raw in things like salads, or side dishes.
If you have never used leeks before, it may seem unnecessary to go out and buy some. Yet, this vegetable can be essential in some recipes, and not using it could alter everything. Try one of these seven substitutes instead and get similar flavors.
*image by depositphotos.com/yarunivphoto