British leeks are available all year round (except June), but the peak times for them are the spring and autumn. So, if you’ve wondered why you didn’t see them in the shops last month that’s why! But no worries, its July so they’re back, which is great news for us as leeks are great in so many dishes. Our favourite recipes are below, but a few facts first.
Did you know?
Leeks are part of the onion family but have a milder flavour and a lovely smooth texture when cooked.
The name ‘leek’ came from the old English word lēac , garlic also comes from this word - gār-lēac.1
Leeks have been cultivated since the time of the Ancient Egyptians.
The Roman Emperor Nero ate so many leeks that he was given the nickname Porophagus (leek eater); he thought that eating leeks would improve his singing voice! 2
Leeks along with daffodils are symbols of Wales. According to one legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing leeks on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons , which they won, that took place in a leek field! 3
So, are they good for you?
100g of leeks sautéed or in a soup or stew are a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin with 91% of your RDA (recommended daily amount). 4
What are lutein and zeaxanthin?
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoid phytochemicals that absorb light; In particular they absorb blue light which may protect our eyes from damage and macular degeneration.
Lutein may also contribute to our ability to continue to use skills, knowledge and experience into old age (crystallized intelligence).
A recent study has shown that diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin along with beta carotene, folate and vitamin K1 significantly reduces cognitive decline.
Other studies have shown that people with a higher intake of carotenoids in particular lutein and zeaxanthin have a significant reduction in the risk of lung cancer.
They are also a good source5 of:
Vitamin B6: For your immune system, brain and blood health, reduces tiredness and fatigue and supports healthy hair.
Thiamin (B1): Which contributes to your heart function, energy creation and the maintenance your mental and emotional state.
Vitamin C: Which protects your cells, supports your immune system, contributes to your skin, blood vessels, bones and organs and reduces tiredness and fatigue.
Vitamin K: which is essential for blood clotting and plays a key role in your bone health
Leeks are really versatile. They can be eaten raw, pan fried, sautéed, stir-fired, baked/roasted and braised.
Our favourite recipes;
Leek and potato soup
No leek recipe collection would be complete without a classic leek and potato soup.
What’s so great about this soup is that it’s equally nice hot or cold. If you are going to have it cold add some cream, a chicken stock cube and a pinch of nutmeg to turn it into a vichyssoise.
Serves: 2 Prep Time: 5 Mins Cooking Time: 20 Mins Allergens: Milk, Lactose
Ingredients 40g salted butter 275 grams of organic leek tops - rinsed 380g/1 large potato Salt and pepper to taste 800ml water
This recipe is great for midweek supper and can be made vegetarian by leaving out the prosciutto.
Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 20 Mins Allergens: Milk, Lactose, Gluten
Ingredients 80g prosciutto or parma ham, sliced into ribbons 450g leeks, trimmed and sliced into thin strips 1 clove garlic, crushed 10 chives, finely chopped 25g butter 30g parmesan, grated 500g pappardelle approx 30ml olive oil 170g shitake mushrooms, such as shitake torn into small pieces
Leeks are great for you and British leeks are available most of the year, so there’s no excuse not to eat them.
If you’ve got children who are not keen on onions, then mild leeks are a great alternative.
I had a real dilemma choosing just 5 recipes, as there are so many good recipes on CheckYourFood. If you want to find more, search for leeks, and click on the Recipes tab to see all the recipes on the site. All with full nutrition!
If you’ve got a great leek recipe that you’d like us to feature, please let me know in the comments below.
I'm our communications and marketing person, dealing with social media and copywriting. I also work with Matt and Ric overseeing the design and strategic management of the site.
I'm also the author of the Eva the Hungry Amoeba children's book series (only one so far). You can find it on Amazon.
My favourite foods, shepherds pie and smoked haddock!