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Leeks

Leeks

Though they may resemble a giant version of green onions, leeks are a special ingredient all their own. These oniony, mild and slightly sweet stalks are the perfect addition to soups, stews and chowders.

Nutritional Highlights

Leeks contain vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy eyesight.

History

The leek is related to both garlic and onions, which explains why its characteristic taste,
is similar to both. Think leeks look more like green onions? Well, it makes sense, since the latter are just immature onions. Throughout history, folks have been eating leeks for their flavor and their health effects, both real and supposed. Ancient Romans thought,
that leeks soothed the throat, which is why emperor Nero ate leek soup every single
day. He thought they improved his speaking voice. Renowned philosopher (and so-so ornithologist) Aristotle said partridges have such a pretty call because they eat leeks.
But overall, the leek has been prized for its mild flavor and crunchy texture. Today,
they're added to soups and stews, or even eaten by themselves as a side dish.

Varieties

There are several different kinds of leeks, which differ according to when they are harvested. The four main types are Summer, Autumn, Autumn-and-Winter and Overwinter leeks. Generally, Overwinter leeks have the strongest flavor and
Summer leeks the mildest.

When are Leeks in Season?

As you might imagine from the varieties, you can get leeks all year long.

How to Choose Leeks

Pick leeks that are stiff and fresh, with bright white bottoms and deep green leaves.
Avoid those that are brown, yellow or wilting. Also, leeks tend to be large, but try not
to buy any that are wider than an inch and a half, since these can be really tough
and fibrous.

How to Store Leeks

Put your leeks in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate them for as long as a week before using. The bag can keep them moist longer, as well as preventing the aroma
of leeks from permeating your other veggies.

How to Prepare Leeks

First, rinse the outside of the leek in cold water. Then, placing it on a cutting board, slice the leek in half from end to end. Now fan open the leaves and rinse them again, being sure to get rid of any dirt hidden between the leaves. Once they're nice and clean, leeks can be chopped and added to a recipe. Be careful to throw them in near the end of a soup's or stew's cook time, since overcooking leeks can leave them a little mushy.

Key Measurements

Usually, recipes call for leeks in 1/2 cups (chopped) or individual stalks.

Substitutions

Green onions are a good replacement for leeks when you're just using a little, but remember that the former have a stronger flavor. If you're making leeks on their own
as a side dish, try frying yellow onions or steaming asparagus instead.

Leeks in Recipes

Where would Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Stew be without leeks, parsnips,
carrots and celery?

Or Hearty Tuscan Soup? Leeks and beans are an essential for its warm, delicious flavor.

Leeks also add a little zing to this Healthified Broccoli Rabe and Ravioli.

Related Recipes

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