A staple ingredient for stocks and soups, we’re lifting this humble vegetable to lofty new heights. Take a fresh look at leeks with these tasty alternatives on traditional recipes.
A little on leeks
Part of the allium family (along with onions and garlic), leeks have a wonderfully sweet onion-like flavour when cooked. They’re also one of the national symbols of Wales and while no one’s exactly sure why, there are a few theories.
Leeks boast vitamin A and K as well as phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which is good news for your eyes, bones and blood health. And they’re low in calories so are a great way to bulk out your meal with something healthy and delicious.
Shop and chop
Available throughout the year, it’s from September to March that leeks are at their best. Choose those that are firm in feel with bright green tops. Smaller leeks have a sweeter taste and only baby leeks are any good eaten raw.
If you’ve ever chopped a leek you’ll know they’re very good at trapping soil between their layers so always give them a good wash. It’s usually just the firm white section used in cooking but there are good recipes for the green tops to reduce food waste.
Leeky soups and sides
Love classic leek and potato soup but fancy doing it differently? Go all hipster and whip up this leek cappuccino soup. Or for a quick twist on the much-loved Scottish cock-a-leeky soup try adding scrummy herb dumplings.
This sweet leek carbonara makes a mouth-watering veggie supper. The leek base can also be frozen so double up and make a stand by freezer meal for another day.
You’ve heard of four-cheese pizza but how about six onion pizza? The beery dough is topped with a delicious slow-cooked blend of leeks, onions, scallions and chives – that’s shallot of onion.
Hearty leek meals
A creamy, green feast of veg, pesto and ricotta, this vegetarian lasagna is far less fiddly then traditional lasagna even if you choose to make your pesto (also dead easy). Or try this super simple Mediterranean tuna dish.
Shepherd’s pie is a comfort food staple at this time of year. Vary it up with this game-changing recipe that swaps out the mash topping for cheesy leek croutons.
We’d usually finish with a pud but that’s not going to happen with leeks. We’ve found a way round it though – leek pudding! A fabulously comforting winter dish that’s a bit involved but well worth the effort, try this cheesy version.