This leek salad uses baby leeks which are sweeter and less stringy than their big brothers. Braising them in balsamic makes them so tasty you'll want to make a double batch to keep on hand.
In this leek salad, tender baby leeks are cooked in balsamic vinegar until caramelised. They are then added to some crisp salad greens and roasted walnuts for some added crunch.
This recipe is based on the classic Italian recipe, "Cippolini Agrodolce" or sweet and sour cippolini onions.
Are leeks and green onions the same?
Let me start by saying that scallions are NOT the same as green or spring onions. They are straight up and down while green/spring onions are bulbous. If green/spring onions are left alone to grow to full size, then dried, they will become onion onions.
Leeks are larger and have a milder, sweeter flavour and are also excellent for braising, sauteing, baking, etc. Baby leeks are leeks that are harvested before they are fully grown.
Can I use regular leeks?
While they are not as sweet as baby leeks you can still use them for this salad, you will just need to cook them for longer.
You will also need to cut them in half before cutting them into 10cm batons or you could leave them whole and cut them into thick rounds, cooking the white parts first then adding the tender leaves.
How to make leek salad
1Prepare the leeks
As leeks are grown in the ground you have to take extra care to remove all the dirt.
Trim the ends of the leeks, remove the tough outer layers and the dark green leaves, then discard.
Cut the leeks in half and wash the leeks carefully to remove any dirt, allowing them to drain.
Then chop into batons - 10 cm or approximately 4 inches.
2Braise the leeks
Heat a large heavy-based, non-stick frypan until hot, add the oil and add the leeks in batches until golden and soft.
Once all the leeks have been cooked, add them all back into the frypan, add the balsamic then cook until caramelised. Allow them to cool.
3Assemble your leek salad
Place the salad leaves in a mixing bowl add the dressing ingredients, then season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the salad leaves on a salad platter, add the leek mixture on top, scatter with the roasted walnuts and serve.
This salad pairs well with roast meats, chicken or game, barbecued pork chops or a juicy steak with baked potatoes.
You could also try the balsamic leeks on top of toasted sourdough or a fresh baguette topped with a softly poached egg for tasty brunch or weekend lunch.
Can I Make it ahead
You can make the balsamic leeks several days in advance, in fact, I will usually make several bunches at once and keep them in a sealed container in my fridge and use them for sandwich fillings, on top of a steak, to serve with a goats cheese tart or to add to a frittata.
What to do with leftover leek salad
The leek salad is still good the next day even though the mixed leaves will be wilted.
I will usually discard the leaves chop up the leeks and use n a frittata, in a tart with goat's cheese, in a risotto with some feta or to use for a toasted sandwich with some cheddar cheese and tomato.
Some more leaf salads to try:
- Salad Spinner
- 250 grams baby leeks (approximatley 6-8 small)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 150 grams mixed salad leaves
- 1 cup roasted walnuts
- 4 tbsps olive oil
- 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Trim your leeks and wash them thoroughly then cut them into 10 cm batons (approximately 4 inches).
- Heat a large heavy based, non-stick frypan until hot, add the oil and add the leeks in batches until golden and soft. Once all the leeks have been cooked then add all the leeks back into the frypan, add the balsamic then cook until caramelised. Allow to cool.
- Wash the mixed salad leaves then either pat or spin dry.
- Place the salad leaves in a mixing bowl add the dressing ingredients, then season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the salad leaves on a salad platter, add the leek mix on top, scatter with the roasted walnuts and serve.