Facts About Leeks

Food/Cooking - Cooking
By: Wordsmith    
03-Mar-2013

Introduction:When I married my second wife, I discovered that my stepdaughter hated onions. That put a serious crimp in my cooking style because I really loved onions and used a lot of them in my cooking - yellow onions, white onions, red onions, sweet onions and scallions. It irritated me to no end to watch her search through the foods I placed before her to find the onions and fish them out with her fork, and sometimes with her fingers. Mind you, my stepdaughter was no child, at least not chronologically, she had CP and was learning delayed. With her affected coordination, the table was a mess by the time she finished searching through a tossed salad for every last piece of onion. The positive outcome of her hatred for onions led me to discover Leeks. She would always ask me if I had put onions in whatever we were having and I discovered that she did not know that Leeks were actually members of the onion family. By the time she had discovered that they were, she had come to realize that she did not hate onions after all.

  • 01

    The Flavor of Leeks

    Leeks have a delicately mild onion like flavor. The edible parts of the leek is the white base of its leaves, its light green leaves and to a lesser degree, its dark green leaves. The dark green portions of the leaves are tough and usually discarded, but they can be sauteed and used in stocks for added flavor. Uncooked, leeks are firm and crunchy, which makes them great for use in salads.

  • 02

    Buying and Storing Leeks

    The leek is really at their best in the springtime, but they can be found fresh in most grocery stores all year long. When buying Leeks, look for fresh organically grown leeks because they have the best flavor. Long, firm stalks with a healthy root base is a good sign that the leek is a freshly harvested farm product. Avoid leeks that have yellowed, withered leaves. Once you have your leeks home, wrap them in a paper towel and place them in the refrigerator. Never store them in the plastic vegetable bag that you brought them home in. properly stored, fresh leeks will remain fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.

  • 03

    It Is All In the Preparation

    Although not as common on the North American Continent as on the European Continent, the leek is growing in popularity. The leek is especially popular when preparing oriental and Mediterranean dishes. To begin preparing leeks for use in any dish, remove their thick, top greens and their root base. Then, in a large bowl filled with cold water, gently swish the mop around to remove surface accumulation of dirt. Once free of dirt, place the mop on a paper towel and let them dry naturally before peeling them by hand.

  • 04

    Slicing, Dicing and Cooking

    Leeks can be cut into rings, sliced lengthwise or cubed, depending on the way they are being used. When cutting them into rings, slice 5 to 10 mm thick, but be careful because of their layered structure, they have a tendency to fall apart. Leeks can be boiled, fried or eaten raw. Boiling them turns them soft and milder in taste. Before boiling leeks, make sure you chop them up otherwise the fibers that run lengthwise through the plant will become a tangled ball as you chew them. Frying leeks makes them crunchier and preserves their taste.

  • 05

    Health Benefits

    Leeks have many health benefits from antioxidants to minerals and vitamins. Laboratory studies have shown that the allicin contained in leeks lessens artery stiffening by the release of nitric oxide. The allicin also reduces cholesterol by inhibiting the HMG - CoA reductase enzyme in liver cells. Leeks are low in calories and high in fiber too. They have far too many health benefits to list here.




Final Thoughts

If you have never used leeks in your cooking, try them this week and you will never be without them in your kitchen ever again.




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