Leeks: The Mild-Mannered Onion

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1917

Give leeks a try — they add drama to garden and the table.

Nothing elevates a cook to gourmet status like cooking with leeks. Sauteed, braised, stir fried or roasted, these long, cool onions are delicious and nutritious. They are also gentler on the stomach than other onions. “Despite their mild flavor, they are rich in beneficial phytonutrients,” writes Jo Robinson in “Eating on the Wild Side.” To get the most out of those nutrients Robinson recommends:

  • For braised beauties, brown leeks. Then simmer in chicken stock for 20 minutes and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese before a quick melt under the broiler.
    For braised beauties, brown leeks. Then simmer in chicken stock for 20 minutes and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese before a quick melt under the broiler.

    Buying small leeks with tender stems because nutrients are concentrated in the green portions of the stalk

  • Using them quickly after harvest because they lose nutrients after just a few days in the refrigerator

Growing your own leeks is the best way to ensure a year-round, quality supply. You can harvest them when they are as thin as your finger or give them time to grow to the diameter of your wrist and a couple of feet tall. Because they are frost tolerant, you can plant them at your convenience. Spring is a good time, or you can over-winter them and harvest into the spring.

Members of the lily family, leeks add drama to the garden — they’re as easy on the eye as they are on the stomach. In “To Eat,” author Joe Eck eloquently describes leeks as “beautiful plants, with strong central stems and great symmetrical, narrow flags of leaves, arranged in a flat plane and colored a wonderful glaucous blue, sometimes in cold weather taking on a blush of violet purple.”

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