Jim wasn’t exactly sure what had been given to him when he dropped that pencil thin “slip” into the ground over 6 months ago. This week our garden gave us the answer. Buried deep in the soil and somewhat stubborn about wanting to come out, we were finally able to get beneath the dense roots and give a hefty yank. The game of tug-of-war had ended and our leek surrendered to an early spring harvest.
Leeks are related to garlic and onions but have a much subtler, sweeter and more sophisticated flavor. They can be used to enrich soups or stews and partner well with potato and cheese to form tasty side-dishes and suppers that comfort and satisfy throughout the fall and winter.
Leeks have been cultivated for thousands of years and are depicted in surviving tomb paintings from the time of the Ancient Egyptians. The Romans considered the leek a superior vegetable with Emperor Nero thinking that eating leeks would improve his singing voice.
The leek is a member of the onion family. It thrives in cooler climates and is tolerant of frost, hence its great popularity as a winter vegetable.
Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as iron and fiber. They provide many of the health-giving benefits associated with garlic and onion, such as promoting the functioning of the blood and the heart.
Remove any damaged outer leaves. Trim the rootlets at the base and cut off around a half to two thirds of the dark green tops. Partially cut the leaks in half lengthwise, starting at the middle and running the knife up to the green tops. Make a second lengthwise cut perpendicular to the first, allowing you to fan out the leaves. Give them a good rinse to remove the dirt that can get trapped inside as the leek grows. Enjoy these simple recipes coming your way in the next few days!