Leeks

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 22. Apr. 2020
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​Leeks are much milder than their close relatives, onions and garlic, yet wonderfully spicy. No wonder it is considered to be a year-round ingredient.

leeks


Leeks...

  • ...boost your immune system. leek gets its typical taste from the sulphurous oils that are abundantly present. They strengthen the intestinal flora, which plays a decisive role for good defenses.
  • ...have an antibiotic effect. The mustard oils in leek also act as a gentle antibiotic. They can render bacteria in the oral cavity and digestive tract harmless.
  • ...help detoxify. In naturopathy, leek has a firm place as an effective means of gentle dehydration and detoxification. It has a diuretic effect, supports the kidneys in the disposal of toxins and prevents kidney stones.
  • ...help combat colds. If you cough and sniff, eat plenty of leek because its oils have an expectorant effect and alleviate cold complaints.
  • ...are easy to digest. Although leek belongs to the onion family, unlike onions it causes hardly any flatulence and is also good for people with sensitive stomachs.
  • ...are loaded with nutrients. with 26 milligrams of vitamin C, 100 grams of leek provides a good 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance. In addition, it has several B vitamins, 1 milligram of iron and 2.2 milligrams of protein.
  • ...can help you lose weight. leek is definitely one of the best friends for a good figure: it provides satiating fiber, but only a few calories and virtually no fat.
  • ...can be dirty. Leeks from the open air tastes particularly good, but a lot of sand can be hidden between its green leaves. A thorough washing is therefore important!

What You Should Know About Leeks

There must be more to leek than meets the eye. After all, it has a long and quite glorious history: as early as 2,100 BC, the Sumerian ruler Umammu had this vegetable grown in the gardens of Ur. In ancient Egypt, the workers who built the pyramids are said to have fed themselves with leek.

The notorious Roman emperor Nero was even called Porrophagus by intrepid subjects because he was so fond of the spicy leeks. The Welsh even included leek in their coat of arms after the British king Cadwallader used it as a distinctive mark for his troops around 640.

Compared with so much splendour and glory, leek of course ekes out a very modest existence today. But it is still extremely popular, used as an indispensable part of vegetable soup. And the fact that leek has a permanent presence on the market all year round also proves its great importance as a versatile vegetable.

Origins

Leek is one of the few vegetables for which botanists do not know its original home, but only suspect it—and that is in the Mediterranean region.

Seasonality

Leek from outdoor cultivation is in season from June to March. In the short intervening period, it comes from early crops grown under glass or foil.

Flavor

Leek tastes strong and aromatic with a slight oniony note.

Varieties

There are several varieties distinguished according to the season:

Summer leek is characterised by a long, rather thin and particularly tender shaft; the green is relatively light. Meanwhile, autumn and winter leek usually has a short and thick white shaft, while the dark to blue-green part is particularly long.

Our Favorite Leek Recipes

How Healthy Are Leeks?

Leek is much milder in taste and smell than the close relatives onions and garlic. But it has the same active ingredients as the other members of the family, although slightly less. First and foremost, these are the abundant sulphurous oils that give leek its signature taste.

These mustard oils ensure that the intestinal flora remains intact and "bad" bacteria or even fungi have little chance. But the high content of vitamin B, C and beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) as well as potassium and calcium also make leek an extremely healthy treat.

Leeks also scores points with a significant amount of zinc and fluorine, which can ensure healthy hair, nails and teeth.

Leeks Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 29
Protein 2.1 g
Fat 0.3 g
Carbohydrates 3.26 g
Fiber 2.2 g


Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

It goes without saying that the poles should look plump and juicy, and the greenery should be fresh. If you eat a lot of leeks, it is worth buying from the largely fertiliser-free organic cultivation.

Storage

Leek is quite robust, so it can tolerate a little longer in the refrigerator. But keep an eye on it: The longer it's kept, the more vitamins it loses.

Preparation

To ensure that you don’t bite down on grains of sand, it is advisable to wash leeks thoroughly under running water. Press the green leaves slightly apart, because there is a lot of soil in between.

After washing, shake the leeks dry and clean them: First cut off the root base, then peel off any unsightly outer leaves and cut off the green leaves.

Depending on the recipe, you can now cut the sticks into thin or thick rings or halve or quarter them and cut them into small pieces.

What To Make With Leeks

Of leeks, the fine, white part of the stalks is preferably used. There is 300 times more beta-carotene in the green than in the white section. So if you make sure you get an ample supply of vitamins, you can also use the brightly colored parts of the stalk. If the leaves turn out too solid, simply cut them a little finer.

The blue-green, firm leaves can then be cooked wonderfully in soups and stews; they add more spice to the respective dish.

Leek tastes good on its own, but surprisingly, it also goes well with almost everything. It harmonizes specially well with fish, but also with white meat, ham, sausage, potatoes and many other vegetables.

Leek is ideal for casseroles, stews, quiches and savoury cakes. The tender summer leek also tastes very good raw, for example in salads. But for sensitive stomachs, it should be blanched very briefly to make it more digestible.

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