What are leeks? Leeks are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions and feature a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of shallots. With a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions, leeks add a subtle nuance to recipes without overpowering other flavors. Although leeks are available throughout the year, they are at their best when in season from fall through early spring.
Leeks look like large scallions and have a small bulb and long white cylindrical stalk that fades to dark green at the top where they fan out. The cylindrical stalks are composed of layers and layers of leaves that feel similar to a corn husk. When shopping for leeks, they should be firm and straight and should not be yellowed or wilted and the bulbs shouldn’t have cracks or bruises. Overly large leeks are generally more fibrous in texture, so it’s better to avoid any leek that’s diameter is greater than an inch and a half.
Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed wrapped loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for a week or two. Before use, leeks need to be cleaned thoroughly. Due to the way they grow, there is often sandy soil in between the layers of leaves. To prepare them, you will need to cut off the dark green tops and remove the tough outer leaves. Then, cut off root and cut the leek in half lengthwise. Fan out the leaves and rinse well under cold running water.
Since they’re related to onions and garlic, leeks are a great food for your cardiovascular system. They’re also an excellent source of immune-supportive vitamin A and anti-inflammatory vitamin K. And here’s a cool thing I learned while researching this entry; apparently, if you leave allium vegetables such as, leeks, onions and garlic sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking it enhances their health-promoting qualities!
Now you have all the information you need to go out into the world and buy some leeks for the recipes I’ll be sharing with you. Hurrah!