What is a Leek?

Meet The Mildest Member of The Onion Family

what are leeks

Have you seen leeks in the grocery store?  A vegetable that looks like a giant green onion, leeks are part of the same family as onions and garlic. Rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C, there’s every reason to include leeks in your diet. Leeks also offer the same health benefits as other members of the onion family, by lowering cholesterol and protecting against cancer.

The mildest member of the onion family, leeks may look like green onions but they are much milder. You can slice up the hardier winter varieties and sauté them in butter with garlic or other vegetables to use in soups and stews, or in the spring add to salads or braise the young, tender varieties on their own. 

When preparing leeks to cook with,  you need to wash them well because they tend hold a lot of grit in their layers, caused by the mounding of dirt around them as they grow.  Trim off the root end, then slice the leek into rings up to just under the very dark green leaves. Place the rings in a bowl of cold water and swish around, then allow to sit for a moment, allowing the grit to settle to the bottom. Drain and give them a good spin in a salad spinner to dry them off and you are good to go.

If the leek is to be used whole, you must still wash it to remove the grit. Cut the leek in half and hold it under the tap, allowing cold water to run over it to remove the grit as best you can.

To store leeks that you are going to use within a week, cut off the root end as well as the very dark green leaves to make it easier to store and put the unwashed, useable parts in a plastic bag in your crisper.

Ready to try some leeks?  Here’s some great recipes for you to try:

Family Feed Bag:  Creamy Leek and Shitake Chicken

A Peek Inside the Fishbowl: Leeks Are Easy Soup

Smitten Kitchen:  Leek Toasts with Blue Cheese

Serious Eats: Braised Leeks with Parmesan and Thyme

She may go by the name Scatteredmom online, but Karen really is anything but scattered when it comes to the kitchen.  Churning out tasty treats within view of the Georgia Strait on Canada's west coast, Karen will hand you an organized weekly meal plan or teach you how to make meals from scratch.  As Mom to a teenage boy, she knows exactly what it takes to keep kids full and happy-which has really come in handy with her job as the Food Editor at Yummy Mummy Club.

A strong supporter of Food Revolution who has been endorsed by Jamie Oliver himself, by day Karen can be found working as a special education teaching assistant, running a kitchen and showing teenagers how to cook nutritious meals for themselves.  By night, when she's not chatting on Twitter and answering cooking questions,  she writes her popular blog Notes From the Cookie Jar, or posting mouthwatering recipes over at Chasing Tomatoes.  Not afraid to give her opinion and passionate about community, Karen spoke at Blissdom Canada 2010 and her writing has been published in Canadian Living magazine, as well as in various online publications. 

Follow Karen on Twitter @scatteredmom