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5 min read

This week’s Vegetable Box Feature: Leeks… a highly underrated vegetable

Did you know?

  • Leeks are a member of the onion family and taste like a combination of onions and garlic
  • They’re full of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, K & iron and are good for the bacteria that live in your gut
  • In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm. The edible portions of the leek are the white base of the leaves (above the roots and stem base), the light green parts, and to a lesser extent the dark green parts of the leaves
  • Leek growing is a competitive sport in some places, including in coal mining regions of England
  • Leeks are toxic to dogs and cats, so keep them away from your furry friends


Fun Fact

  • Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially valued for their beneficial effect for the throat. The Greek philosopher Aristotle credited the clear voice of the partridge to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger.

Where to Store it?
The best way to keep uncut, unwashed leeks fresh is by storing them in the refrigerator, ideally in the crisper section, and wrapped in plastic or in a plastic bag. After the leeks have been cut, they can be frozen or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Preparation
Leeks are grown in sandy soil, so they need a good cleaning before they are ready to use in a recipe. First, rinse the entire leek. Then cut off the dark green leaf end and trim the root end, leaving just the white and green stalk area to work with. Thinly slice the stalk into rings. Place the sliced leek rings into a large bowl of cold water. Toss them around in the water to remove any sand, dirt and grit from the inner layers. Let them sit for at least 2-3 minutes. Gently lift the leeks from the bowl of water and place in a colander. This way you leave behind the dirty water and any grit that’s fallen to the bottom of the bowl.

How to Use:
Leeks can be eaten raw and are commonly used as a salad topping. They are an excellent flavour enhancer for soups, casseroles, starchy foods like potatoes and bitter items like greens. Try swapping out onions for leeks in your recipe for a delicious flavour twist!



Recipes:

Sautéed Spinach & Leeks
Created by: Kathryn Doherty

Sautéed spinach and leeks is a quick + easy, healthy side dish with simple ingredients and delicious flavor!


Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (you can also use coconut oil or unsalted butter)
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 8 oz. bag fresh spinach or baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Instructions:
1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat.
2. Add leeks and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
3. Add garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds.
4. Add spinach and stir for 2-3 minutes until spinach is mostly wilted.
5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if using, and serve hot.

 

Oven Roasted Leeks and Potatoes
Created by: Lindsay Cotter


A healthy and budget-friendly one-pan recipe that can be paired with all your favorite meals! Whip them up in minutes for a vegan side dish perfect for every occasion.


Ingredients:

  • 2 leeks (stem only), sliced
  • 1 pound red potatoes or gold potatoes – sweet potato or yam may be substituted
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced red onion or shallot
  • 1 large garlic clove (1/2 to 1 tsp, minced)
  • 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup olive oil or refined avocado oil, adjust as desired.
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and ground pepper each (divide)
  • Optional – 1/2 cup to 1 cup leafy greens (ex: spinach leaves).
  • Lemon to garnish (sliced and juice)
  • Herbs to garnish – Chopped fresh parsley, thyme, or oregano

 

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Wash the vegetables.

  1. Cut off the green tops of the leeks. Trim the root off the leeks. Starting at one end, cut the leek into thin round slices (1/2 inch to 1 inch). Place into a bowl of water to help remove sediment.
  2. While the leeks are sitting, slice the potatoes into quarters. Then, peel and slice the red onion into thin strips.
  3. Remove the leeks from the water, and place all vegetables into a clean mixing bowl.
  4. Add 1 minced garlic clove, 1/3 cup olive oil (adjust as desired), 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp of sea salt, 1/4 tsp or more of the black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  5. Toss all of the ingredients together until the vegetables are well-coated. Arrange the vegetables on a sheet pan in a single layer.
  6. Roast at 425° F in the oven for 30-35 minutes. TIP – Halfway through roasting, flip over the potatoes and check the leeks/onion for doneness. If the leeks/onion are fully cooked, remove them from the oven, and place them on a serving plate/bowl. Continue to cook the potatoes for the full amount of time.
  7. Once the potatoes are done, remove from the oven, and combine them with leeks/onion. Season with extra salt/pepper, if desired.
  8. If adding greens, lightly steam the greens in microwave or stovetop until softened.
  9. Mix the steamed greens together with the potato, leeks, and onions.
  10. Toss with fresh lemon juice and herbs to garnish. Serve immediately.


Asparagus Leek Soup with Parmesan
Created By: Kate

Asparagus Leek Soup with Parmesan Cheese makes the perfect spring soup - fresh, healthy, delicious, and easy to make. Serve it hot, warm, or chilled.

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, diced (about 2 cups), rinsed well
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lb asparagus (about 2 bunches) ends discarded and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 cup water – optional
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt (up to 1 tsp, to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


Instructions:
1.
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the chopped leek and minced garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes, or until the leek starts to soften.  

  1. Add the asparagus and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the asparagus is very tender. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Allow the soup to cool a bit before blending.

    3.
    Carefully transfer the soup to a blender (reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish, if you like!), and process until the soup is smooth and creamy. If it is too thick for your liking, add water in small increments and blend again (up to 1 cup water). Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse for 1-2 seconds to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot, warm, or chilled. 

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