Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Growing and Cooking with Leeks February 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 10:48 pm

Growing great leeks has proved to be a bit challenging for me thus far.  Last year, I grew them from bundled starts, like onions, (in bunches) and they never really filled out.  This Fall,   I bought a flat of leeks already planted in 4 inch pots  and planted them deep in one of my raised beds.  I planted them about six inches deep, but since they were in pots already, I think I should have buried them a couple inches above what was sticking out of the pot, which would have meant digging almost to the bottom of the bed they were in.

The more of the leek buried in the soil, the more white, desirable leek you have to eat.   The lighter green above the white part is also edible, and forms above what is in the ground.

So, after about two weeks, I brought in some more soil, and applied another layer, to mound up around the leeks, in hopes of producing more white stalk.  After that, I let them do their thing and didn’t mound them again.

In preparation for my Spring plantings, I harvested the leeks today, to make room for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.  While the leeks grew to good width, the white stalks weren’t quite as I’d hoped.   They are a vast improvement over my last leek adventure, but still not what they could be.

Leek harvest

Another view

I cut the tops off right where the light green turns to dark green and composted the dark green tops.  For dinner, I cleaned and chopped 3 leeks, white and green.  I took a Hot Italian sausage, from my sausage making extravaganza last week, out of its casing, and broke it up in a pan.  Once it was mostly done, I added a bit of olive oil and butter, not much, and added the chopped leeks.  Since I had tomatoes from B5 at the farmer’s market, I chopped half of a medium tomato and tossed that in the mix as well.

Sauteing Italian Sausage, Leeks, Tomato

I cooked Rosemary Pappardelle pasta from The Pasta Company, also from the farmer’s market.  Once the leeks were soft, I added a bit of the pasta water to deglaze the pan, and make a bit of a sauce with the sausage, leek and tomato mixture.  I tossed that with the pasta, and topped with some grated Parmesan.  And, as I always do, I garnished it with fresh parsley from my now huge parsley plant on the patio.

Italian Sausage, Leek, Pasta dinner

Next time, I think a thinner and smaller pasta would be better for this preparation.  The very wide, long strands of pasta didn’t hold onto this mixture as well as they would have something more saucy or creamy.  It was still quite tasty and satisfying on a cold night, and I felt pretty proud having made the sausage from scratch and grown the leeks in my own garden.  Doing my best to keep it local.



2 Responses to “Growing and Cooking with Leeks”

  1. My first round with leeks went the same way, and I never knew to bury them deeply. (Sometimes I find that my fellow farmers like to hold tight to their little secrets, even though I bought my first sets from a tight-lipped farmer…lol). This year’s harvest, however, has been a bit more satisfying. They seem like a lot of work for little return, but then I price organic leeks and decide to plant again.
    I’m impressed with your dish–self-made sausage and leeks. Next think you know, you’ll have made the pasta yourself, too!

    • Thanks Margaret! I have plenty of garden space in the winter, so I might as well plant them. I could make the pasta from scratch, but since I only use Richardson Farm’s 100% whole wheat, it can be a bit toothsome. I need to try to sift it to get some of the bran out, so that I can make more things with it.

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