There’s something distinctive about leeks that makes them uniquely delicious. I’m not sure what it is, but they’re not just any old onion. We’ve learned a lot about substitutions in cooking, but I truly can’t think of another ingredient that can quite capture their flavor. So when I saw leeks make their appearance at our local farmer’s market, I couldn’t wait to use them!
Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes
This recipe was intended as a stuffing for some acorn squash (another market find), but it was so delicious that we wanted to share it as a side dish recipe of its own. The flavor of the leeks mixed with the fresh sage and thyme made for a wonderful savory combination; we’d highly recommend using fresh herbs if you can get ahold of them! And if you’ve never made quinoa, this is a great way to try it out – it’s one of our favorite nutritious grains (and gluten-free, if you’re cooking for someone that is)
How to cut leeks
Quinoa with leeks is very simple to make: the most involved part is cutting the leeks! If you’ve never cut a leek before, here is our tutorial. And make sure to watch our video below to see it in action!
- Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks and the bottom root.
- Slice the leeks in half length-wise.
- Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then slice it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. You will likely notice dirt in between each layer of the leeks,
- Rinse the sliced leeks thoroughly in a colander, then shake them dry.
Video: How to cut leeks
Notes: If you don’t have fresh sage or thyme handy, you can substitute dried. However, we highly recommend finding some fresh herbs to get the full effect of this dish! The rule of thumb is to substitute three parts fresh herb to one part dried; here we’d use about 1 tablespoon rubbed sage and 1 1/2 tablespoons whole thyme. Only use ground dried herbs if that’s all you can find; if so, you can use even less! This tastes best when the quinoa is freshly made, so if you can, try to time it so that you can serve right away.
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
- 1 pound leeks
- 1/4 cup fresh sage
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Make the quinoa: Cook the quinoa following the instructions found at Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa, using 1 1/2 cups quinoa and 2 1/4 cups water. Or, use our Instant Pot quinoa method. While the quinoa cooks, complete Step 2 and 3.
- Chop the leeks (watch the video!): Chop off the dark green stems of the leeks, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down, then chop it into thin slices, resulting in half-moon shapes. Rinse the slices thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt. Remove the leaves of the thyme, and chop the sage leaves. Roughly chop the walnuts.
- In a skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks, and saute about 4 minutes, just before they begin to brown. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts by placing them in a small skillet and toasting over low heat, until slightly browned (watch so they don’t burn)
- When the quinoa is done, stir in the sauteed leeks. Then add the fresh sage, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Taste, then add more salt or pepper to taste, as well as a drizzle of olive oil if desired. Top with walnuts and serve immediately.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.