March 12, 2013

Take a Leek

Emergency phone call from a friend tonight: “Ginger!  How do I clean a leek?  You can’t eat the green parts, right?”

Great question!  One I asked myself just last week.  I had found a great recipe for Bulgur with Greens and Leeks so I bought all the ingredients and then I started to prep.  I realized at that moment:  I’ve never cooked a leek before!  They are quite beautiful – white bulb at the bottom spreading into firm, dark green leaves at the top.  I did not prepare the leek correctly my first time, so here is a nice YouTube video about how to do it.  Basically, you need to slice off the very bottom root-part and the dark green leaves at the top, then slice it lengthwise so you can clean out the dirt between layers.  The white part is the most soft and delicious.  If you are going to sauté leeks as part of your recipe, you can go further into the more firm green leaves because they will soften as they cook.  Leeks have a nice onion-y smell but do not overpower other vegetables.  Like onions and garlic, leeks belong to the Allium family and are highly regarded as beneficial to health. 

Leeks are high in vitamin K, A, C and B6.  They also contain manganese, folate, potassium and iron.  They are high in fiber and low in calories (like so many other veg).  Because they also contain a compound called “kaempferol”, they provide heart healthy benefits by relaxing blood vessels.  Kaempferol combined with other antioxidant polyphenols and carotenoids in leeks protect against oxidation throughout the cardiovascular system. 

Leek consumption was first reported beneficial by the Greeks and Romans but is thought to have originated in Central Asia with dried specimens having been found in Egyptian sites.  Because leeks can grow well in cool, wet climates, they became popular in the UK and are even a celebrated national emblem in Wales.  Take a leek and celebrate spring!

Leeks with Greens and Bulgur Wheat                                            


3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4  leeks, white and tender green section chopped

2 bunches Swiss chard or collards, stems and leaves cut/torn into 1-inch pieces (separate)

4 cups mushrooms, sliced (any variety you prefer)

6  garlic cloves, chopped finely 

1/2 tsp each salt and fresh-ground pepper

5.5 cups vegetable broth

2 cups bulgur (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add leeks and chard stems.  Cook until soft (~4 minutes)
  3. Add mushrooms.  Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add green leaves and garlic.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes more.
  5. Add salt,  pepper, broth,bulgar to mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer covered for 10 mins.
  6. Serve warm.       


1 comment:

  1. Yum! I can't wait to try this, sans mushrooms of course.