Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When it Rains Leeks it Pours

Incredibly easy to grow, delicious to eat and good for you, leeks are one of my favorite late spring foods.  However I'd never grown them before.  Last summer my husband handed me a small pot of what looked like chives.  They were in fact, hundreds of individual leeks just waiting to be teased apart and planted.  Pots of leek "starts" such as this can be found with the vegetable plants at Lowe's and Southern States.  Anytime from late summer through early spring, plant leek starts in full sun (they need a good about 8 hours per day) in loose, well drained soil with a good six inches between each tiny bulb and wait till the plants are about one inch in diameter. To be honest I planted mine in early spring of 2011, sort of forgot about them, and didn't harvest them until two weeks ago.  They were still great! 
So what to do with all these leeks?  My two favorite options are the Lemon and Leek Quiche from the Food52 cookbook, and a creamy potato and leek soup using Ina Garten's Roasted Potato and Leek Soup Recipe. A friend of mine, who is an amazing at home cook , (I'm talking nine layer cake on a Wednesday night just for fun) made a ridiculously good potato and leek soup last week using a combination of the above recipe and Garten's Zucchini Vichyssoise recipe.   He said he added one squash, to add a little sweetness, as well as rosemary because a potato and leek soup with rosemary is the house soup for one of his favorite restaurants.  Whatever you choose to make, remember that it's the white part which provides the best flavor.  The pale green portion is still fine to use, but the dark green foliage should be discarded.  Dirt will often fill the many layers of each leek, so rinse the leeks, chop or slice them and then rinse them again in a bowl of water.  Leeks are not only delicious, they are also a valuable health food.  Loaded with vitamins K, A, manganese, C, folate, and even iron.  Check out more on the health benefits of leeks and how to preserve them when cooking  here.  

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