Leeks belong to the Allium vegetable family, which also includes onions, shallots, scallions, and garlic. They have a mild, sweet onion flavor and look like large scallions. They add a delicate touch to recipes without overpowering other flavors. They are available year round and are in season from fall to early spring, peaking in January. When choosing leeks, look for clean white ends and fresh green tops. Fresh leeks will stay fresh a week or two if stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator. Wrapping them loosely will help them to retain moisture.
Leeks are a great source of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin B6, copper, iron, folate, and vitamin C. Leeks are also a good source of vitamin A, dietary fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Allium vegetables are anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Consumption of Allium vegetables can reduce your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your HDL cholesterol levels. Leeks have been known to aid in regulating blood sugar levels, decrease the risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, and protect against heart disease. They can help prevent some types of cancer due to their high content of Allyl sulfides. Leeks are rich in kaempferol which is linked to reducing the risk of cancer and lower risk of numerous chronic diseases. Kaempferol has proven to reduce a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by up to 40%. Due to leek’s high sulfur content, they aid in the development of the connective tissue and help support our detoxifying system.
Scrub leeks clean and trim off the green tops. Remove any tough outer leaves. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse any dirt. Cut into thin slices and let sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking. They can be boiled or steamed, but most prefer to sauté. Use them as you would onions or garlic.