The tasty green stalks are packed full of vitamins
Whether the light summer leek or the stronger-tasting winter version, leeks are a reliable source of freshness and minerals all year round.
Leeks are one of the most classic ingredients in a green soup and can also be found in many stews or casseroles. Its mild spiciness adds a deliciously subtle twist to all dishes. Whether as a minor ingredient, a side dish or a main course, leeks consistently deliver an aromatic spiciness due to the fact that they are part of the onion family. In addition to this, leeks contain plenty of vitamin C and K, folic acid and nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Due to their low-calorie content, leeks are a great addition to your weekly shopping list.
|Calories||30 kcal per 100g|
|Nutrients||3.7g carbohydrate, 2.8g fibre, 0.3g fat, 1.6g protein per 100g|
|Storage||cool cellar or refrigerator|
|Shelf life||1-2 weeks|
Leeks have been part of mankind’s diet for thousands of years. The first written recording of it dates as far back as 3,200 BC in Egypt, however archaeological evidence suggests that it was consumed long before that. Its exact origin is difficult to place but it is supposed that the home of the leek is either the Mediterranean Region or Britain.
Leeks, and the different varieties, are not associated with any particular season but rather all year round. The summer leek is tender, mild in taste, and light green in colour. The winter leek grows a bit more compactly and has thicker leaves – it therefore has a more intense flavour and keeps for longer.
Leek traditionally features in stews and soups and when mixed together with cream, it can make a great side dish. It is the perfect vegetable to add to a casserole. Cheese, ham and bacon all compliment the flavour of leek wonderfully and can often be seen combined in a savoury tart. A mixture of leeks, ham, egg, cheese and cream can be delicious on top of puff pastry, short crust pastry, or dough.
The combination of fish and leeks also works very well, especially salmon. Perhaps try salmon pieces and leeks in a cream sauce with tagliatelle, or a fillet of salmon with lemon pieces, fennel and leeks wrapped in tin foil and baked in the oven – either way, the leek lends a very pleasant flavour that is not as overpowering as that of onion.
Whether slicing them into rings or smaller pieces, leeks only take a short amount of time to prepare. If your leek looks relatively clean, you may simply just have to remove the outer leaves, wash the stalk whole and then slice it however you prefer.
Unfortunately however, leeks usually hide quite a large amount of clay deep in between the leaves. If you slice the vegetable lengthways up until the roots, it can be easily fanned out and washed under the tap. You can then proceed to slice the leek into half rings or quarter rings – the latter is quite nice if you want to eat the vegetable raw.
If you require whole rings for a particular recipe but the leek is quite dirty, another option is to slice the stalk into rings, place them in a sieve and wash them. Regardless of which way you choose, be careful to remove the slight sliminess in between the leaves.
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