Grilling Makes Leeks the Star Side Dish

It’s time to introduce leeks to your grill (or grill pan!).

We’re in love with leeks, so we’re partnering with Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt to share tips, insights and recipes featuring the onion’s cousin.

Leeks turn soft and sweet under the heat of the grill, allowing them to showcase their full scope of flavor. The onion-y zing remains, while you also get that caramelized richness that chefs adore.

An indoor grill pan is ideal in this situation, as leeks take a bit of time to cook, so being able to control the heat without scorching them to oblivion is best. Here, grill the leeks slowly over medium heat until deeply charred so that they have a pleasant smoke and a deep flavor. Then, just as they are nearly finished, add a bit of water to the grill pan, cover the leeks and let them cook for perfectly stunning leeks.  

Serve these leeks with a punchy herb sauce. A pistou is a classic Provençal sauce, made of garlic, basil, and olive oil. We’ve taken a bit of liberty here, adding a bit of heft with walnuts and some zing with lemon and vinegar.

Make this dish a meal with a softly poached egg or serve it alongside grilled steak or chicken.

The sauce can be made up to three days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The leeks are best served just warm or room temperature.


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Grilled Leeks with Walnut and Herb Pistou

"While basil is the classic choice and really indeed lovely, feel free to swap in or add to with different leafy herbs such as parsley, cilantro, chives or tarragon. I love adding a few herbs to give a real full flavor to the sauce." - Ashley



For the leeks:

4 leeks, green and root ends removed, halved and rinsed well

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt

Walnut and Herb Pistou (recipe below)

For the pistou:

1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces

2 cups fresh herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, etc.)

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Squeeze of fresh lemon

Pinch chili flake

Pinch kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil


To make the leeks:

Drizzle the olive oil over the leeks and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Grill over medium heat until dark char marks appear. About 5 to 7 minutes per side.

After they’ve been grilled on both sides carefully add 1/4 cup of water to the grill then cover the leeks with a heat safe bowl or pot. Let them steam under the bowl for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the bowl then grill until all the water has evaporated.

To make the walnut and herb pistou:

Combine the walnuts, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, vinegar, lemon, chili, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. I like to leave the nuts a little chunky for texture but that is up to you. You may need to scrape down the bowl a couple times to get things moving.

Add the olive oil then process until just combined.

Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

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