From the Motherland is a series where I pay homage to my Ukrainian heritage and share the beloved eastern European recipes I grew up eating. This simple leek salad with carrots and apples is a crunchy and refreshing side dish. Think of it as a spicy cabbage-less coleslaw.
Leeks haven’t played a big part in my adult life either. For years, I walked past them at the store, ignored them on restaurant menus, and disregarded recipes that called for them. Only recently did I discover how wrong I was.
A month or so ago, I had dinner with a friend at a Polish restaurant here in Syracuse. There was a fresh leek salad on the menu, which we figured would go perfectly with our pierogi. The salad was a mess of thinly sliced raw leeks, apples, and shredded carrots in a creamy dressing. When I took the first bite, I realized I’d eaten this before. (Polish and Ukrainian cuisines are very similar.)
My brain took me back to a vague memory of a loud family gathering around a long table with platters and platters of homemade food. I couldn’t place the exact time or location of this flashback, but my taste memory didn’t fail me. Since then, I’ve been buying leeks and loving experimenting with them. Including recreating this very salad.
What’s In This Leek Salad
This simple Polish/Ukrainian leek salad consists of raw leeks, shredded carrots, chopped apple, and mayo (or sour cream, or a mix of the two). You can think of it as coleslaw’s spicy, cabbage-less cousin – grassy, crunchy, and fresh. It makes a great side dish for rich foods like BBQ and braises.
A Bit About Leeks…
Although leeks belong to the onion family, they couldn’t be more different from their round, yellow counterparts. Leeks are slightly less pungent, more floral, and taste more… well, more green! It’s helpful to think of them as giant scallions. Leeks are high in Vitamins A, C and K, as well as various minerals. They also contain kaempferol, an antioxidant known to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, and cardioprotective properties.
You can eat leeks raw…?
Yes! They’re basically an onion-scallion hybrid, so why not? The white/light green parts are milder than the dark green. If the leek is young and fresh, the dark parts can be eaten raw, too. With more mature leeks, the dark greens can be too spicy and fibrous. In that case, trim them off and make a potato-leek soup or a pasta, or freeze them to make scrap broth later.
Leek Salad Step-by-Step
Choose the Best Ingredients: Since this salad has just a handful of ingredients and they’re all raw, use the best quality, most flavorful vegetables you can get (i.e. organic and in-season, if possible).
Clean the Leeks: Leeks – especially the dark green parts – tend to house a lot of dirt between the layers. To clean, slice them into thin half-moons and place in a large bowl of water. Swirl the leeks with your hands while separating the layers to release the dirt. Then lift out and place back on the cutting board. If the water looks really dirty, repeat the process.
Mix the Salad: Transfer the clean leeks to a large mixing bowl and add the carrots, apples, mayo, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.
More Ukrainian recipes…
- Fried Potatoes with Mushrooms and Dill
- Kasha with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions
- Traditional Potato Varenyky
- Roasted Eggplant “Caviar”
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag your creation with @thenewbaguette on Instagram.Print
This Ukrainian leek salad with carrots and apples is a crunchy and refreshing side dish. Think of it as a spicy cabbage-less coleslaw.
- 1 large or 2 small leeks, white and green parts
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup) *(see note below)
- 1 tart apple, cored and cut into small bits
- 1/3 cup mayo or sour cream, or a mix of both (traditional or vegan)
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Start by cleaning the leek: Trim the root end, as well as 1-3 inches off the dark green part (just whatever looks bruised/dry, see note below). Halve the stalk lengthwise and cut into thin half-moons.
- Place leeks in a big bowl of water and swirl around with your hands while separating the layers to release all the dirt. Lift the leeks out of the water and place back onto your cutting board. If the water looks really dirty, repeat the process with new water.
- Transfer the leeks to a large mixing bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste and serve immediately.
- To speed up the grating process, use your food processor with the shredding attachment to prep the carrots.
- If the leek is young and fresh, the dark parts can be eaten raw, too. With more mature leeks, the dark greens can be too spicy and fibrous (hard to chew). In that case, trim them off and save for a potato-leek soup, pasta, or scrap broth.
- Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
- Calories: 120