To be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever cooked with leeks myself – I find them somewhat bizarre and intimidating, so this lesson in all-things leeks is actually quite beneficial for me! Some of my favorite bloggers utilize leeks in their everyday cooking – one being Sara from Sprouted Kitchen whose two gorgeous recipes I’ve featured below. Feeling inspired and curious all at the same time, I’m ready to dive in and find out what this peculiar little vegetable is all about.
Leeks are a member of the onion family, and are similar in texture and appearance to garlic and chive. The leek itself exudes a sweet flavor that isn’t overpowering or nearly as strong as an onion. However, it inserts an amazing bright, earthy flavor when seasoned appropriately and paired well with other ingredients in dishes.
Health benefits: Like most vegetables, leeks are extremely low in calories and have a high fiber content. They’re also high in vitamin A, which promotes healthy function of the mucosal lining of the throat, nose, and urinary and digestive tracts, according to livestrong.com.
Leeks are also an excellent source of folic acid, potassium, calcium, and vitamin C and provide laxative, antiseptic, diuretic and anti-arthritic benefits. And among other perks, leeks are also a great source of flavonoid antioxidants, which help fight various types of cancer in the body.
Nutritional statistics: One cup of raw leeks contains approximately 54 calories, 0 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar and 1 gram protein.
Cooking methods: The best time to buy leeks is in the spring depending on where you live. But you can usually find them year-round at most grocery stores. When selecting a leek, make sure its stalks are long, uniform, firm and white. The bulb should look healthy and fresh. Once purchased, NutritionandYou.com recommends wrapping them in a paper towel and storing in the fridge for up to 10 days.
When it comes to cooking with leeks, a good starting place is using them in place of onion in just about any dish. Because of their mild flavor, they’re also a great stand-alone dish, such as sautéed with a little garlic and served with eggs. They’re also delicious when sautéed and added to mashed potatoes – a recipe we’ve included below. And they make a terrific addition to soups and stews alike. We hope this provides a little inspiration for you to branch out and try leeks if you haven’t already. This nutritious vegetable will certainly be making a appearance on our dinner menus in the very near future.
Braised Leeks with Muscavado Lentils from Sprouted Kitchen
Strawberry Leek Quesadilla also from Sprouted Kitchen
October 28th, 2012