Leeks

Photo Credit: Tori Avey

Photo Credit: Tori Avey

Leeks are richer in certain vitamins than it's cousin, the onion, and more delicate in flavor. Biblical accounts mention how desirable the leek was. It still is! It It has a milder flavor than the onion and tolerated much easier for those who are unable to digest onions well. Leeks can be part of a healthy diet, but careful of what you use to saute them in.

Nutrition

When sliced or chopped, the many antioxidants leeks provide begin converting to allicin. According to Dr. Mercola, "Allicin provides an abundance of important attributes to the body, such as anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities, and reducing cholesterol by impeding harmful enzymes in liver cells." Leeks also provide an amazing 52% daily requirement of vitamin K and around 21%, for blood and bones, vitamin A, for eyes and other health benefits. Being from the same family as onions and garlic, they also provide some of the same health benefits such as reducing risk of diseases such as colon cancer, esophageal cancer, and many other cancers. 

Preparation

Leeks collect dirt in the many layers, however it takes little effort to clean a leek.

Tori Avey instructs to first wash the outside of the leak and pat dry.  Remove the darkest green part of the leek, the toughest part, and remove the root end. You can save this for stocks or soups or simply discard. Thinly slice the leek into rings and place in a bowl of cold water. Let them sit for a minute and then give them a gentle shake to remove the soil trapped in between the layers. Let them sit for a couple minutes longer, then hand scoop or use a slotted spoon to remove them from the bowl, careful not to mix up the dirt/soil that has collected in the bowl, mostly at the bottom.

Alternatively, you can slice your leek into strips instead of rings and follow the same process above.

Either way you slice them, let them drain in a colander.

Storage

If leeks are in good condition, they can be stored anywhere for about five days, but be aware if refrigerated, other foods will absorb their aroma.  If refrigerated, store in a plastic bag, unwashed. Leeks do not freeze well unless you plan on using them in a soup or stock.  Most recipes call for sauteing and frying.

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-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP