In the spirit of Veganuary we’re discussing some of the many uses of the leek, a close member of the onion family, you’ve probably only come across this super food in your mam’s turkey and leek pie but that doesn’t have to be the only time you can eat it.
The leek isn’t quite a root vegetable as most of the plant technically grows above ground, the most desired part of a leek is where the bundle of leaf sheaths connect, commonly considered the stem or stalk of the vegetable. There isn’t anything to say that you can’t eat the green leafy parts, though the majority of flavour, a mild and sweet onion taste, is held in the fleshy white stem.
The health and beauty benefits of leeks go quite unknown to many of its consumers, with high iron levels and a strong Vitamin C content to aid the absorption of said iron, you can expect your hair follicles to be healthier and stronger, producing a fuller head of hair. Not to mention the anti-inflammatory and detoxing properties leek can offer, easing swollen joints and flushing the body of toxins.
Before you jump up to go buy some leeks, make sure you know how to properly prep them for eating and cooking. You’ll want to begin by cutting off the tough and dark green parts of the vegetable and trimming the root beards off of the crunchy part of the stem.
Next, slice the vegetable horizontally down the middle, leaving the fleshy white part intact to hold the pieces together during cleaning, cutting the vegetable like this allows the water to really rinse out any grit.
Run under cool water or better yet, swirl your leeks around in a basin or large bowl of water. You want to be thorough here – no one likes to wonder if the crunch is salt or sand!
Lastly, after a gentle towel-dry, dice your leeks to the desired size and you’re set to go!
Wondering what to make? For cooler seasons when warm and cosy is on the agenda, stick to a homely soup, why not try our Head Chef’s vegan friendly Leek Soup Recipe here.
Though for many, the time to cook meals is rare and we need something that is protein-packed and on-the-go! Try this Mean Green Power Machine Smoothie recipe; simply chuck the following ingredients in a blender and enjoy:
2 cups of chopped steamed broccoli
2 cups of chopped steamed leek
1 cup of raw spinach leaves
½ cup of fresh parsley
½ teaspoon of cumin powder
¾ cup of water or coconut milk
And if after all this cooking you have a few leeks left over, why not grow new leeks right at home! You’ll need either a still-whole leek or even just the root beard end that would’ve been cut off during your vegetable cleaning and prep. Simply place the root end in roughly half an inch or 2cm of clean water in glass jar and position in a sunny spot to increase the humidity.
Ensure that the water is refreshed every 4 – 7 days depending on how quickly it gets dirty. You’ll soon see fresh green grow peeking through the fleshy white part of the leek and viola! you’ve grown your own leeks.
At our Cooks & Partner's cafes this month, our signature dishes will be featuring the leek. Pop in and give one a try and don’t forget to check out our awesome vegan friendly Leek Soup Recipe this Veganuary!