Leeks are a vegetable that belongs to the same family as onions.
It is widely assumed they are descendant of the wild onions that grow all over the European countryside.
Leeks are a long cylinder shaped stalk of tightly packed leaf layers.
They vary in both length and thickness depending on the age of the plant.
The immature leek is sold as ‘Baby leek’ and is often pencil thin, while the mature plant can be as thick as a broom handle.
They’re white at the base where they have been covered in soil during growth, and the top of the plant is dark green where exposed to light.
The sunlight stimulates photosynthesis which produces chlorophyll in the top leaves, which results in a dark green, earthy flavored chemical which I personally think smells like old lawn clippings.
For this reason, it’s usually the unexposed white base that has culinary use, whereas the top dark green section is often discarded.
Leek has a sweet, mild flavour compared to regular onions. They are a great choice when seeking a more restrained flavour profile, such as soups.
Leek is in abundance from autumn through to winter.
They can be sautéed, stir-fried, steamed, braised and basically utilised in the same way as onions.
Leek and pumpkin risotto
3 tbsp olive oil
400g Arborio rice
1 small leeks, finely sliced
200g pumpkin, finely diced
½ cup white wine
1 ½ Lt vegetable or chicken stock
5 tbsp parmesan, grate
salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
- Fry leeks for approx 5 minutes until tender,
- Add the pumpkin and cook gently for approx 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir to coat, then deglaze with wine.
- Add the stock gradually stirring for about 20 minutes until grains are swollen and al dente.
- Take off the heat and stir in the parmesans cheese and season to taste.
- Garnish with grated parmesan, olive oil, milled black pepper and basil.