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Leek dip includes any vegetable or cracker dip that uses the leek as its base flavor. A cousin of the onion, leeks have a pungent flavor. Most individuals preparing leek dip cook the leeks enough to draw out the vegetable's sweetness, though, often making the dip milder and more appealing to a broader range of tastes. Some leek dips also combine leeks with other vegetables or ingredients to add dimension to the flavor. These dips are typically served with a platter of sliced vegetables or crackers.
Allium porrum, more commonly known as the leek, is a member of the lily family, along with onions, shallots, garlic, and chives. Leeks have a flavor that closely mimics the taste of onions, but when cooked, leeks take on a sweeter, more delicate taste than onions do. The vegetable measures roughly 1 foot in length (approximately 30 centimeters), and its stalk is about 2 inches in diameter (approximately 5 centimeters). Layers of dark green leaves tightly wrap around a pale green stalk, which gradually turns white as it reaches the small bulb at the bottom of the plant. Both the stalk and leaves of the leek are edible, but some recipes call for one over the other.
Many individuals making leek dip prefer to use the white and pale green parts of the stalk instead of the dark green leaves. The leeks are halved and sliced into thin rings measuring about 1/3 inch (approximately 8 millimeters) or smaller. In a preheated skillet coated with butter, the cook sautès the pieces until they soften. Some cooks may continue sautèing the leeks until they begin to brown and caramelize. This cooking process minimizes the pungency of the leeks while releasing their aroma and drawing out their mild flavor.
After the leeks are cooked, they must be added to a dairy base. Most dips are made with sour cream, and the average leek dip is no exception. Many cooks also add a soft cheese, like goat cheese, to the dip, and some substitute cream cheese for sour cream in order to create a richer tasting dip. The dairy ingredients are thoroughly mixed together before the cook stirs in the sauteed leek slices, creating a very simple, basic leek dip.
Most individuals prefer adding other ingredients to the dip to create a more complex flavor. Herbs, spices and vegetables, including parsley, black pepper, salt, and chives, are the most common, subtle possibilities. Some individuals may also add blended vegetables, like mashed peas, or chopped nuts, like almonds, peanuts, or walnuts, to alter the taste and texture of the leek dip. Finely chopped pieces of cooked bacon create a dip with a heartier flavor.
Leek dips are usually served with platters of raw vegetables or crackers. Vegetables commonly served on platters include cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, and carrots. For more variety, individuals may also include less common vegetables like daikon radishes or kohlrabi. Alternatively, a leek dip can be served alongside gourmet crackers, pita crisps, and breadsticks, instead of vegetables.