Leeks, Easy to Grow. Easy to Eat

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The luscious leek. Actually, leeks are more often described as a long bulb; they’re not really luscious to look at, at all. However, they do taste magnificent. If you enjoy onions and garlic, you’ll love the leek.

What Is It?

The leek actually belongs to the allium family so it is a close cousin with garlic and onions. It has a milder taste that makes it a great addition to many soups. The leek is a bulb but it is different from onions and garlic in that the part you eat actually grows above the ground.

A long cylindrical stem grows out from the ground and produces long leaves. The stem is the part of the vegetable that you eat. When you cut a leek horizontally, you’ll see many tightly packed circles – like an onion.

The actual leek is about a foot tall and about two inches in diameter. At the top of the stem is a beautiful firework shaped bloom. They’re easily cultivated across the country and are easy to grow. In fact, they’re pest and disease resistant, which makes them easy to grow in a back yard or container garden. Like many vegetables, they’re harvested in the fall. You may have heard of ramps. Those are wild leeks which have a stronger, more onion-like, flavor.

Health Benefits

Leeks are extremely high in vitamin K and vitamin A. They’re also a good source of B vitamins. They’re low in calories and high in fiber and nutrients. Leeks contain the flavonoid kaempferol and are high in polyphenols. Both of these nutrients help protect blood vessels.

Fun Fact

The leek is the national emblem of Wales. According to legend, King Cadwaladr ordered his soldiers to wear a leek in their helmet so they could be easily differentiated from their opponents.

How to Eat

Leeks are perfect for recipes that require subtle flavoring. For example, potato and leek soup is quite delicious. Leeks are also tasty simply sautéed in a bit of olive oil and served as a side. You can add them to salads and eggs too. The tricky part about a leek is the preparation. The stem has a tendency to collect dirt as it grows.

You’ll want to trim the bottom of the leek as well as the leafy greens, leaving the white stem remaining. Then wash the leek thoroughly. If the leek is particularly dirty, you may want to slice it however you need for your meal and then wash it sliced.

Leeks are easy to find at your supermarket. They’re the long skinny vegetables stacked on top of each other like logs. Pick one up and try it in a soup or salad today.