The vegetable with Dad jokes built into the name. Goggle ‘serious leek’. You’re welcome.
These delectable allium alumni don’t always get placed in the pecking order with onion and garlic, but they should.
I first tasted the green tops served in a soup, grisly and chewy. Others were introduced to charred leek lurking in a dish, withered to leathery confetti. Don’t let these common offenses colour your judgement.
It’s all about how you use the different parts, from bulb to the greens, leeks are a zero waste vege. Also, if there is leek in a dish, potatoes never far. The two top all-rounders, making moves!
Used in place of onion, the bulb is a great foundation in most dishes, being more delicate and sweeter than onion. I Particularly like to sub them into risotto. To Braise, slice length ways, sauté then simmer and reduce in stock for 10 minutes. Another simple method is to slow roast them in halves, coated in oil and salt. Roast for an hour covered, then crank up the heat to caramelize. Steam them for a healthier version. Save the green leaves for stocks or soup. There are 101 ways to cook a leek, you’ve got 97 more to discover!
Leeks take around 120 days to reach maturity. They can be harvested from late summer through to early spring and can be left in the ground until needed. They sweeten if harvested after the first frost.
Originally from central Asia, leeks have been consumed since at least 2000BC. Dried specimens from archaeological sites in Egypt, as well as wall carvings and drawings indicate their place on royal plates. Roman emperor Nero was a big believer in leeks and their healing attributes. The Romans also considered them the food of the rich, so if you’re picturing hedonists lounging in robes guzzling grapes, maybe add leeks to the image.
The health properties Nero touted are recognized in both folk and western medicine. They normalize digestion, increase appetite, and improve liver activity. Kaempferol in leek is linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cancer. High in fiber and low in calories, leeks are a mild diuretic which help eliminate toxins from the body and are high in antioxidant polyphenols.
If you’re not convinced, I’ll set the ‘Society of Leek Lovers’ onto you. They exist… in Britain. So if we’re going to join, we might have to set up a chapter.
To store: Cut off the greens and loosely wrap unwashed leek bottoms (with roots) in a bag and store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for 2 weeks.
To prep: Cut the leek about 2cm above the white part, where the leaves begin changing from dark to light green. Save the unused greens. Slit the leek lengthwise and soak it in lukewarm water for 15 minutes. Fan the leaves under running water to dislodge dirt, then pat dry. chop the white part finely.
To freeze: Cut the white parts of the leek into slices and flash freeze.
- Cawl Cymreig ("Welsh Soup") consisting of leek, potato, swedes, carrots beef or lamb.
- Vichyssoise (Chilled Leek and Potato Soup) A famous New York dish, created by Louis Diat
- Cock-a-leekie (Scottish)
- Leek and matzo soup, for Passover. Egyptian origins.
- Leek, cheese, potato Cornish pasty https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/leek-cheese-potato-pasties
- Pho, Vietnamese https://ingmar.app/blog/recipe-the-national-dish-of-vietnam-pho/