Unctuous, rich and tasty, these vegan braised leeks are heaven on a plate! Honestly, if you like leeks, you are going to love this amazing vegan side dish! Meltingly soft leeks paired with the classic French flavours of garlic and thyme, and set off with nutritional yeast for depth of flavour and a slight dairy-free cheesiness. It's like the perfect gratin dish without any dairy in sight!
I could eat these leeks straight out of the dish just with a spoon and nothing else to go with it! However, if I have a little more willpower not to dive into them as soon as they are ready, I like to serve these as a delicious vegetarian side dish to go with our family Sunday lunch. The rest of my family are not vegan so while my husband cooks meat for him and the kids, I try to make the most amazing vegan sides to outshine their meat! These delicious braised leeks certainly ticked that box!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
This recipe is so good – I KNOW you will love it! Why? Well, here are some reasons:
- Easy – just roughly chop some leeks and garlic, then saute’ for a few minutes in oil and the rest of the cooking time is just the pan sitting bubbling slowly on the stove for 20 minutes.
- Forgiving – You can’t go wrong with this recipe. If you’re delayed and can’t serve dinner when you planned it, this will happily sit on the stove just getting softer and more unctuous by the minute! (just top up with a little water if gets too dry).
- Insanely delicious! – never have leeks tasted so good – and without the heavy cream and cheese that you find in other braised leek recipes too!
- Vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free – as always with my recipes!
- Versatile – serve these braised leeks as a tasty side dish to accompany your Sunday lunch or with jacket potatoes or even stirred into pasta or risotto. Leftovers (if you have any) will keep well in the fridge too so you can have some more on toast for lunch the next day!
- Leeks – we want the main white and light green parts here, not the tough very dark green leaves the splay out at the end. The white parts are the bits nearest the root end. If you have particularly thin leeks, double up the number of leeks as this recipe assumes the normal fairly thick leeks.
- Garlic – fresh garlic gives a lovely background flavour and is classic in French cuisine!
- Olive oil – go for a nice olive oil but it doesn’t have to be your best salad quality since we are cooking with it.
- Vegetable stock – I use the marigold bouillon vegan stock powder but any good vegetable stock will do for this recipe. Just be careful of the salt content and if it is a very salty stock, perhaps don’t add any extra salt until you taste it at the end and adjust accordingly. It’s easier to add in salt than adjust something that is too salty!
- Nutritional yeast – this is a common vegan ingredient that adds a slight cheesiness to the flavour. I think it works so well here with the leeks so please don’t leave out this ingredient! It is also a great source of vitamin B12 (if you buy the one that is fortified).
- Apple cider vinegar – you only need a teaspoon of ACV for this recipe but it is just enough to add a slight acidity to balance out the rich flavours. You could use white wine vinegar or even lemon juice if you prefer, but don’t use a strongly flavoured vinegar like malt vinegar.
- Dried thyme – I always have dried thyme in my spice rack and it is a classic pairing with leeks. You could use fresh thyme if you prefer or just a Mediterranean or Provençal herb blend.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
How To Make This Recipe
This is a very simple recipe to make. First, prep your vegetables by chopping the leeks and slicing or mincing the garlic. Chop the leeks fairly thickly into large chunks. You don’t need any special knife skills here. You need the leeks to stay fairly large otherwise they will disintegrate while cooking. See the photo below for the size I chop mine.
Next, heat the oil in a saute pan over a medium heat and saute the leeks in the oil for about 3 minutes until browned on each side. Stir occasionally to ensure browning on all sides. Then add the garlic and stir for another minute until the garlic is browned. Be careful as garlic burns very quicky and will give a bitter flavour to the whole dish if it goes that far. Have your jug of stock close to hand so that the moment you see the garlic going to dark brown, you can add the stock to bring the temperature down and pull the garlic pieces off the bottom of the hot pan.
Once the leeks and garlic have browned, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Add the stock first so that nothing burns while you are adding the other things. Give it a really good stir then turn the heat right down to low and put the lid on the pan. Leave it simmering over the low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing is burning.
If your pan is very large or the lid is not very tightly fitting, you may find that the sauce disappears too much and it starts to look a little dry. If that happens, just add some more water to make it saucy again.
Test whether the leeks are ready by inserting a sharp knife into them. The knife should slide in and out really easily without pulling. Then you know it is ready! If there is any resistance, leave it cooking with the lid on for a few more minutes until the leeks are super soft. Serve just as it is or garnished with fresh herbs if you want to make it look pretty!
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full instructions.
How To Prepare Leeks
Leeks usually need a good wash as the soil gets right inside between the different layers as they grow. Although they may look a little intimidating as they are so long, they are very simple to prepare. I find it easier to wash the soil off after chopping the leek than before as sometimes the dirt is quite hard to access until it is chopped! This is how I prepare my leeks:
- Peel off the tough outer leaves and chop off the tough dark green end (the opposite end to the root end)
- Then chop the rest of the leek, discarding the root end.
- Finally, put the chopped leek into a colander and rinse under cold running water to remove any excess dirt.
- These French-style braised leeks are the perfect side dish to a Sunday roast dinner. They would be wonderful with a delicious nut roast, some boulangère potatoes or quick roasted celeriac with lemon, and some fresh peas!
- Another delicious way to serve these braised leeks would be with hot jacket potatoes. You could add some white beans to the dish for a bit of protein and then you have a complete nourishing vegan meal!
- You could also serve these vegan braised leeks with pasta or stirred into a risotto – delicious!
- Finally, I have also had these leeks on toast for a quick lunch (I know they’re not that quick to make but they don’t require much active cooking time so I can have them cooking away while I work at the kitchen table…).
This dish would work well with some white beans added at the same time as the stock and other ingredients. If you like, you could also add some grated lemon zest to make a lemony version or stir in a tablespoon of white miso at the end of the cooking time if you want an umami kick. I find it tasty enough as it is though!
Making Ahead & Storage
You can make these vegan braised leeks ahead of time and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days (also for leftovers). Re-heat gently in a small pan when ready to serve (you may need to add a touch more water when re-heating). You could also re-heat it in the microwave.
Yes, this recipe is vegan and has no dairy products in it!
For meltingly soft leeks, simmer over a low heat with the lid on for at least 20 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
📖 Recipe 📖
Vegan French-Style Braised Leeks
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 leeks, thickly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- a pinch of salt and black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan on a medium heat. Once hot, add the leeks and sauté over the heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes until nicely browned. Then add the garlic and stir over the heat for another minute until browned.*2 tablespoon olive oil, 2 leeks, 2 garlic cloves
- Once browned, add the vegetable stock and the rest of the ingredients, stir well, put the lid on and turn the heat down to low. Simmer over the low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.250 ml vegetable stock, 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, a pinch of salt and black pepper
- It is ready when the leeks are meltingly soft. Test them with a sharp knife which should slide in very easily. If there is any resistance against the knife, keep cooking for a few more minutes with the lid on until they are super soft.
- Once soft, take the pan off the heat and serve, garnished with fresh herbs if you like. It will also keep for up to half an hour with the lid on to keep it warm.
** If it starts to look too dry at any point (it will depend on the size of your pan and how well the lid fits), just add a little more water to make it more saucy. If it looks too wet, just remove the lid and boil it off for a few minutes until there is the amound of sauce that you prefer.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
If you like this French-style braised leeks recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free side dish recipes too:
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