Lucious Leeks, not just a second rate onion!
The humble leek can be traced back to ancient Egypt, in the time of the Pharaohs.
A cousin of the onion, leeks have a milder flavour and are a good substitute. Depending on the variety they have either long or short white stems with green leaves or ‘flags’. In terms of size, the smaller ones are more tender with big, thick leeks described as ‘pot leeks’ (best for soup)!
Nutritionally, leeks have similar properties to garlic with high allicin levels which give it antimicrobial, cholesterol lowering and potential anti-cancer properties. As with all vegetables they are high in nutrients, low in calories and a good source of fiber.
What to look for
The best leeks are about 2cm in diameter, not too thin to be fiddly and not so thick as to be tough. Look for a long white stem and fresh green tops. Avoid anything dried up, wizened, blotchy or mushy.
How to clean
Cut the leek through the middle lengthwise, keeping the root end intact. Clean under running water by separating the leaves and using your fingers to rub away any dirt caught in the leaf creases.
What parts to use
The white part of the leek is the most tender, the younger green leaves can also be used. Any tatty leaves can be discarded, but even the fairly leathery green parts can be used to flavour stock.
Here are three fantastic soups making leeks a star of the show!