Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct flavour – quite harsh when raw (only very young leeks are eaten this way) but, when cooked, very delicate, like a mild onion with a hint of sweetness. Two thirds of their length is white and firm, and this is the part that is mainly eaten. The rest is made up of the leaves (flags), most of which are discarded.
Leeks are very versatile and work well cooked in various recipes or as a side dish. Two of the world’s most famous soups, Scotland’s cock-a-leekie and France’s crème vichyssoise, are based around them.
How to prepare a leek
Thorough washing is very important for leeks, as soil is often trapped between the many layers of leaves. First, trim off the base, and cut away the uppermost part of the leaves. Remove the outer layer or white, if it’s tough. Then, if you want to keep the leek whole, use a knife to make a slit from the top to the point where the green meets the white, cutting through the centre. Rinse well under running water, pulling back the layers so that any dirt at the base is removed. Alternatively, slice the leeks, then put in a colander and wash well under running water.
How to cook leeks
Steam (up to 8 mins for sliced; up to 16 mins for whole). Pan-fry for up to 8 mins, sliced. Also good as an ingredient in casseroles, tarts, pies and soups.
How to store leeks
In the fridge, for up to a week. As their strong aroma can taint other foods, make sure they are well wrapped.
When are leeks in season?
You can find leeks year round, but they are at their best from September to March.
Choose the best leeks
Look for leeks with a firm, unblemished white lower part, and leaves that are bright green, with a crisp texture. Smaller leeks tend to be sweeter and more tender.
Alternatives to leeks
Leeks are from the allium family like onions and garlic, but have a much sweeter, milder flavour. According to legend, seventh-century Welsh soldiers wore leeks in their hats to distinguish them from the enemy army. Ever since, the allium has been a Welsh national symbol. Choose leeks with bright green tops and trim the root and leaf tops before rinsing well to remove grit and soil.
Some recipes you may like to try:
5g carbs per serving
1.8kg leeks, trimmed
50g butter, plus extra for serving
thyme leaves for garnish
The day before you want to serve this dish, cut the leeks from top to root and wash thoroughly under cold running water. Thinly slice them on the diagonal and put into plastic bags and chill until ready to cook.
To serve, put a large pan over a medium heat, add the butter and let it melt over the base of the pan. Add the leeks and plenty of seasoning and stir to coat in the butter. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan and cook the leeks gently for about 15 minutes, stirring half way through until they are tender.
Serve with extra butter and a sprinkling of thyme leaves
Crispy Chicken with creamy mushrooms and braised leeks
this dish is 11.9 carbs per serving
Sausages with tomato, leek and butter bean mash
with nutritional details as follows
Carbohydrate 28.4g Protein 26.9g Fibre 8.3g Fat 9.4g
This blog brings a variety of articles and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.
All the best Jan