My parents have been telling me to "eat my greens/vegetables", and I did, but a lot of those greens look so similar that I can never tell them apart. I would eat them anyway because they were delicious (at least when you put some spice on it). There's so many vegetables out there that we get confused between. The term "vegetables" is such a broad category, and within that category, there's so many different kinds of vegetables and some of them are surprisingly related/ in the same species. For example, did you know there was an onion species? We all know there's white, yellow, and red onion, but actually scallions and leeks are in this group too. For vegetables that are in the same species, it would make it harder for us to differentiate between them, especially scallions and leeks because they almost have a similar taste and appearance, just like how it's so hard to tell the difference between cilantro versus parsley because they look alike. Scallions and leeks are easy to get confused because they both have green stalks with white bulbs on the bottom, but I'm here to clear up the confusion and point out the clear differences between the two green vegetables. 

What Are Scallions? 

vegetable, leek, spring onion, scallion, herb
Kate Zizmor

Scallion is one of the best garnish for food, for its flavor, but also for aesthetics. It tops foods like ramen, fried rice, and they make great pancakes. If you saw this picture above and immediately thought "that's green onion", you're correct; scallions and green onion are literally the same thing. Whether you call it scallion or green onion, it's a part of the onion species. Though it has a milder taste than your regular white or yellow onion. Scallions have a pepper-y bite, somewhat-spicy, sharp flavor. I love scallions, but never by itself because I can't handle that strong flavor, but some might. I've only had it in salads and as a garnish, but a little goes a long way because of its strong flavor (unless you're cooking it, then you could add more). You can even add it in soups, or grill it. Summer is the best season to have scallions, actually, because it's their peak season.  

What Are Leeks? 

Leeks are in the same onion species as scallions, but they have a different taste and size. They're bigger than scallions, and they also have a mild onion-like flavor. It also has a slightly garlicky flavor, but when you cook it, that garlicky flavor mellows out. Leeks are never usually the main star of a dish, but there's so many ways you can prepare this vegetable so it shines bright in the dish. Just remember, if you replace leek with scallion in a recipe, it probably won't turn out as good because as you've just read, they're don't really taste the same. However, don't go buying leeks now because they might be expensive. Instead, buy them when they're in season, aka in October

Spoon tip: If you're cooking up a dish with leeks, make sure to give it a good wash, like you do with all your vegetables. However, wash it extra well because there might be dirt in between the layers.

Now that you know the difference between scallions and leeks, you can confidently enter your grocery store and pick the right green vegetables for your meals. If you need some more help with how you can cook scallions and leeks, check this out.