Leeks Braised with Preserved Lemons and Tarragon

Leeks with Preserved Lemons - Leeks lightly braised with preserved lemons and tarragon

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A few weeks ago Bobby and I had an absolutely delicious and memorable dinner at Albuquerque’s Farm & Table restaurant.  I had a seared duck breast with greens and a potato side that consisted of the thinnest sliced potatoes I’d ever seen, seasoned and baked to perfection.  Bobby had the special which was a delicately roasted quail and a side of leeks with preserved lemons.  I tried the leeks early on causing Bobby to have to guard his plate until he finished eating.  They were SO good and I knew I would have to try making them at home. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to buying some leeks it had been a couple of weeks and all I could remember were the preserved lemons.  So I reached for the flavor combination used in one of my favorite breads – Buttermilk Tarragon Lemon Bread.  This wonderful quick bread uses lemon, tarragon and black pepper to provide a unique and unexpected flavor.  The combination transferred beautifully to these braised leeks.

Are they the same leeks as what we had at Farm & Table?  No – a little different but very good and a side that will be made over and over again.  These braised leeks are a great side for roast chicken and other poultry, and last night I served them on top of angel hair pasta tossed with sauteed garlic and olive oil.  So good!  I’m sure they will also complement a juicy grilled steak or beef roast as well as ….. just about anything.

Leeks with Preserved Lemon and Tarragon
Leeks with Preserved Lemons - Leeks lightly braised with preserved lemons and tarragon #leeks #preserved #lemons @mjskitchen

Leeks with Preserved Lemons and Tarragon Recipe
15 mins
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
A refreshing and flavorful side dish for a variety of entrees.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Side Dish, Vegetarian
Yields: 2 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 2 medium leeks, about 1 pound untrimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. minced preserved lemons
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh tarragon or ½ tsp. dried, crumbled
  • ¼ heaping tsp. black pepper
  1. Trim the leeks of all but the white portion. Cut the white portion into 3 to 4 inch lengths. Cut into quarters, lengthwise.
  2. Separate the leek layers into a large bowl of water and rinse. Remove from the water and drain through a colander. Shake off excess water. (They don't need to be completely dry.)
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the leeks, preserved lemon and tarragon. Toss to coat.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp. water, reduce heat to low and cover for 12 to 15 minutes until leeks are tender. About halfway through the cooking time, check to make sure the leeks aren’t starting to brown and that a little moisture remains in the pan to finish cooking the leeks. If the leeks are starting to brown or stick, add another tablespoon of water and reduce the heat even more.
  5. When done, remove from the heat, add the pepper and toss to coat.
  6. Serve and enjoy.
Kitchen Notes

This is a simple dish with just a few of simple notes.


The Preserved Lemons – If you don’t have preserved lemons you can make my Quick Preserved Lemons the night before, or try some lemon zest and about 1 Tbsp. lemon juice.  You’ll need to add a touch of salt if you don’t use the preserved lemons.


The Tarragon – Fresh tarragon yields a very delicate tarragon flavor, whereas dried tarragon can be pretty intense.  So if all you have is dried, be sure to cut the amount in half.


No Salt – As you noticed, this recipe doesn’t call for salt.  That’s because of the preserved lemons.  They are quite salty and provide all of the salt that is really needed for this dish.


Next time you need a quick side bursting with flavor, give these braised leeks with preserved lemons a try.  They’ll definitely wake up the plate.


Leeks with Preserved Lemons - Leeks lightly braised with preserved lemons and fresh tarragon


Other recipes with leeks that you might like:

Pasta with Leek Confit and Mushrooms

Calabacitas Chowder

Swiss Chard and Leek Quiche

Potato and Leek Soup


This Braised Leek recipe was featured in the article Leeks Recipes that we Loved That Aren’t Just Leek Potato Soup, The Huffington Post, 03/13/2013.

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60 Responses to “Leeks Braised with Preserved Lemons and Tarragon”

  1. Deb|EastofEdenCooking November 24, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    I really enjoy the mild flavor of leeks and this recipe looks fabulous! My holiday menu is planned and tomorrow will be pie and prep day. But I’m already looking past leftovers and to next weeks menu. It will certainly be time to take a break from turkey!

    • mj November 24, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

      Thanks Deb! Yes, I finished planning and purchasing for Thursday today as well. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and weekend!

  2. Diane Balch February 17, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    Hi MJ,
    Your recipe is being featured in a collection of preserved lemon dishes on Simple Living and Eating. I will be pinning and tweeting it this week.

  3. Kim Beaulieu November 19, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Oh em gee, this is gorgeous. I can’t even get over how pretty this is. I must try this. Like yesterday. Wowsers.

    • mj November 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      Thanks Kim! I know you have some preserved lemons in that fridge of yours! 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

  4. Gomo | cHowDivine November 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    I’ve never had leeks prepared this way nor have I had a dish where leeks were the star. I will have to try this next time I get leeks. The flavors sound amazing!! 🙂

  5. Nami | Just One Cookbook November 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Just saw the Farm & Table website – I’d love to go to this restaurant…all the dishes sound wonderful. Leeks are my favorite, and I just saw recipe at Spicie Foodie using preserved lemons too. I have lots of lemons right now that I need to finish using very soon. Love this simple recipe!

  6. Asmita November 6, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Hi MJ,
    I love to cook with leeks and so going to try this recipe. Yummy!

    • mj November 6, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      Thanks Asmita! I hope you enjoy it!

  7. Bill November 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    Oh, MJ! Leeks are one of my favorite things and you’ve given me a great side dish to make. I agree that they’d be a perfect side for roast chicken which is another favorite! I wouldn’t have thought of this combination and thinking about it is making my mouth water!

    • mj November 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks so much Bill! I hope you do get to make them and enjoy them.

  8. Sissi November 4, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    MJ, they do look as if they were great just with anything. I love your presentation too (how do you do this?). Your photographs are so elegant and…. respectful to this wonderful vegetable (please don’t laugh!). I like leek a lot but I don’t cook it often enough. Thank you for inspiration!

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi!! And I’m not laughing. I’m actually very flattered with the way you described the presentation. Like I told Bobby – it’s all about the food. 🙂

  9. Raymund November 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    I got some leftover leeks right now and those ingredients, got to try this one

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      Thanks Raymund! I hope you enjoy it!

  10. Dedy@Dentist Chef November 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Never had a single dish made of only leeks before, tempting to try!
    i guess this could be a great sauce for pasta if i processed into a fine paste……..

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

      Thanks Deby! I did toss some of these leeks with some pasta and it was great. I’m sure blending them to a paste would be quite good as well.

  11. Sandra | Sandra's Easy Cooking November 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    I can imagine nice balance in the taste and aroma from tarragon and lemon. YUM! Great recipe, Mj!

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Thanks so much Sandra!

  12. Karen (Back Road Journal) November 3, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    I still have preserved lemons and will have to try your recipe when I return home. The leeks sounds great.

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      Thanks Karen for stopping by on your trip!

  13. Carole November 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Now this is a great idea for serving leeks, MJ. Love lemon/tarragon combo! Cheers

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks Carole! It is a great combo!

  14. Abbe @ Abbe's Cooking Antics November 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    This looks like a really fresh and light dish, MJ – even the photograph is *zingy* 😉 x

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks Abbe! 🙂

  15. Carolyn Jung November 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    A great way to enjoy your preserved lemons. I’m definitely trying this since I always put up a jar of preserved lemons every winter.

    • mj November 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn! It’s always good to find another preserved lemon lover!

  16. Ramona November 2, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    What a beautiful dish!! Love the preserved lemon. 🙂 Have a great weekend!!

  17. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles November 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Tarragon is my favorite herb. When the French company Maille stopped making tarragon infused vinegar for a time, I sank into a deep depression 😉 — (they came back with a different version that was never quite as good as the original, oh well). All to say, I know that I would love your delightful braised leeks with preserved lemon and tarragon MJ. A wildly delicious combination and it looks so good too. Off to check out Anne’s bread…

    • mj November 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      Thanks Kelly! I’m with you, I love tarragon! That’s why I grow it. I used to make tarragon vinegar, but haven’t in several years now. I love it! Sorry you can’t find that good vinegar anymore. Have a great weekend!

  18. Suzi November 1, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I have got to try this, lots of leeks in the market too and of course the preserved lemons. Beautiful photos MJ. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    • mj November 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks Suzi! I know. There are lots and lots of leeks at the market right now. It’s great! Enjoy!

  19. Helene D'Souza November 1, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    I just picked up a few leeks (the last and only unique ones in goa it seems) but it’s for sure not a pound and I still haven’t had the time to make your preserved lemons. Thanks for reminding me and I can’t wait to try your new food discovery MJ.

    • mj November 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      Thanks Helene! Sounds like leeks are a luxury in Goa. Glad you found some. So have you already used up the lemons you made? I remember your wonderful tapenade. Have a great weekend.

  20. Zsuzsa October 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Peach Lady these are yummy. My leeks are gone – I guess I will have to buy them from now on. We love them.

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      WOW – you grow your own leeks? How are is it to grow them? I love them so much that I probably should grow them if I have the room and patience. 🙂

  21. Treat and Trick October 31, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Such a simple yet tantalizing dish!

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm #


  22. ChgoJohn October 31, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    You must be reading my mind, MJ. I’ve got preserved lemons and hae been experimenting with ways to use them. Adding them to leeks is a great idea and something I’m sure to like. I will definitely give this a try. Thanks!

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      Thanks John! Glad to see another preserved lemon lover. Hope you like this recipe!

  23. Debra October 31, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    I am very interested in your quick preserved lemon recipe. I tried my hand at making preserved lemons this summer with less than stellar results. I love the idea of the leeks with the pasta,

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Thanks Debra! Sorry you’re attempt at making preserved lemons didn’t work out. Have you watched my video on how to make them? Actually, I know a few people who just stick to the quickie method, so you try it. It works great!

  24. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef October 30, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    I love preserved lemons and they’re so easy to make. I remember the first time I made them and did heaps. Two people can’t eat heaps so I now preserve just a lemon or two and always have them in the fridge.

    I love your leek and lemon combination. I enjoy the mild sweet flavor of a cooked leek.

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! Yep – my preserved lemon jar has been downsized as well. 🙂

  25. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies October 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    I love braised leeks. 🙂 I keep seeing recipes that use preserved lemons, but I’ve never tried them before–I should make some!

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      Thanks Kiersten! If you love leeks and preserved lemons, then this recipe is for you.

  26. The Wimpy Vegetarian October 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    What a terrific way to use preserved lemons!! I would love leeks like this!

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks Susan! I love cooking with preserved lemons so I’m always looking for new dishes in which to use them.

  27. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz October 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    I adore leeks but rarely buy them, always forget. Love the preserved lemon and tarragon in the recipe.

    • mj October 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! I usually don’t use a lot of leeks but they’ve been quite plentiful and relatively inexpensive this years, so I’ve been buying.

  28. john@kitchenriffs October 30, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I don’t use leeks nearly enough! They often seem unreasonably expensive, at least in my stores, but you do so get good flavor with them.Love the idea of using preserved lemon, too. I used to preserve lemons frequently, but it’s been years since I’ve done so – need to get back in the habit. Good recipe – thanks.

    • mj October 30, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks John! As you probably know, I’m a huge preserved lemons fan and always have some in the fridge. In fact, I’m running low and just bought some lemons to make another batch. It should be ready by the time these are used up. 🙂 I have another recipe coming, so get a batch started. 🙂

  29. Giulietta | Alterkitchen October 30, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Simple, easy, but these must be delicious!!

    • mj October 30, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks Giulia!

  30. Michelle@SimplifyLiveLove October 30, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Looks wonderful, MJ!

    • mj October 30, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks Michelle!


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