As illustrated by the cauliflower craze, vegetables are no longer just an afterthought—now, eating plant-based is trending, for both omnivores and vegans alike. Cruciferous cauliflower is everywhere, riced, mashed or even made into gnocchi or pizza crust, paving the way for other veggies to take their turn in the spotlight.
The lowdown on leeks
As the weather starts to warm, Spring fresh veggies such as leeks are increasingly popular. However, whether you’re looking to sub in another vegetable for leeks or simply want to shake up your go-to recipes, we spoke to nutrition pros for their take on how to substitute leeks with another vegetable for a healthy, nutrition-packed powerhouse dish.
Leeks look similar to an extra-large scallion, and are related to the garlic and the onion family. Leeks have a milder, more subtle flavor and fragrance. They can be eaten raw as long as you make sure just to use the whitest portion of their bulb. Ramps are the wild version of the leek.
Think out of the box
"A good substitute for leeks would be a rice, bean or legume that still holds a similar, filling texture while providing nutritional equivalencies," says Registered Dietitician Tracy Beckerman who works with Banza. Consider swapping a nutrient dense new variation on “rice” such as Banza Chickpea Rice. This would be a great swap in place of leeks, offering all nutritional checkpoints leeks provide, as such as fiber, calcium and iron. An added bonus that chickpea rice has that leeks don’t measure up to is protein.
According to Beckerman, you would need to eat 11 whole leeks to get the equivalent amount of protein found in 1 serving of chickpea rice. “That’s a lot of leeks! Plus, you are getting much more fiber to help keep you full by subbing in chickpea rice for a leek-based side dish.” Chickpea rice can be used in any dish that includes a grain or vegetable. Think healthy bowls, in sushi, or served as a side alongside a protein.
Chickpea Rice With Apples & Almonds Recipe
2 Tbsp almonds
½ granny smith apple
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
¼ cup dry chickpea rice (boiled)
1. Chop almonds
2. Dice apples
3. Mix with apple cider vinegar and avocado or olive oil
4. Incorporate with cooked chickpea rice while it’s still warm
5. Add parsley and chives to taste
6. Sprinkle goat cheese on top
Other veggie options
If chickpea rice isn’t your taste, try subbing leeks with these alternatives offered by Celebrity Nutritionist & Chef Nicolette Pace.
Roasted shallots are a similar flavor to leeks from the same family of vegetables. Pair them with any dish. Also from the same family, grilled ramps can act as a stand-in for leeks. Or, opt for cauliflower asparagus gratin.
Incorporate these veggie-friendly ideas into your next meal for a healthy, delicious swap for leeks.