Leeks belong to the "Allium ampeloprasum" species. It shares close ties with onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, chives and spring onions.
Native to the Eastern Mediterranean and Egyptian regions, where it evolved from wild sand leeks, the Egyptians went on to inscribe it over their tombs. The Roman Emperor Nero, too, was extremely fond of this vegetable, as he believed in its ability to improve the quality of his voice. The Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed leeks as a remedy for nosebleeds. The Welsh, too, consider leeks a symbol of victory and wear them as a crown over their heads on St. David’s Day.
Today, Germany is responsible for the greatest import of leeks, followed by Pakistan, Japan and France.
Taste & Texture
This vegetable is cylindrical in nature with bundled leaf sheaths. Leeks have a crunchy texture with a mildly sweet or pungent onion-like flavour.
Leeks are used in numerous ways to prepare various culinary delicacies in different parts of the world. It is even mentioned in the world's first cookbook, dating back to the 3rd century.
It can be:
- Blanched and served with a vinaigrette.
- Fried to make crispy leek leaves
- It can also be used raw in salads.
- Cooked and pureed into soups.
- Blanched and stuffed with fillings.
- Baked and used in tarts, pies and casseroles.
- Used a mirepoix in stocks.
- Steamed and used in healthy dishes.
- Grilled and roasted to bring out its sweetness.
- Used in stir-fry dishes.
- Fermented and pickled
The most noticeable health benefits of Leeks are:
- Low-calorie: 100 grammes of leeks only contain 31 calories, making them great for weight management.
- Boosts immunity: The vitamin C and phytochemicals present in leeks make them great for fighting off disease-causing pathogens.
- Improves brain health: The copper present in leeks improves the function of neural pathways and prevents memory loss. Vitamin B6 also helps boost mood and improve sleep patterns.
- Strengthens bones and provides energy: Copper, iron, and vitamin K help strengthen bones.
- Helps with digestion: Fibre-rich foods help slow down the digestive process, allowing the body to absorb nutrients better. It also leaves you feeling fuller for longer, thereby curbing problems associated with weight gain.
- Great for the heart: Potassium present in these roots helps reduce the body’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Good for skin, eyes, and teeth: The presence of Vitamin A in leeks makes it great for boosting vision, preserving the skin, and improving oral health.
Leeks last for about a week if stored unwashed in paper towels in the crisper section of the refrigerator. They may also be pickled and stored for two weeks in the refrigerator or frozen for up to a month. It is important to store leeks unwashed, as water accelerates the decaying process.
We hope you enjoy exploring cooking with this wonderful culinary delight!
Crunchy texture with a mild onion-like flavour
Diabetes - Friendly (GI score: 15)