Leeks add an onion flavor to the soups, stews it's added. Let us see some more information about leeks, what do leeks taste like, how to clean them, how to cut, how to cook, and some more.
What are leeks?
Leek is a vegetable from the onion family. It has been grown for over six thousand years and can be grown both in the spring and autumn.
These look like green onions or scallions in appearance but larger in size. Leeks have large flat leaves that look like layers of thick grass.
Leeks have been cultivated in various parts of Europe for centuries and found their way into Asian cuisine during ancient Roman times.
The plant grows in clumps, with what appears to be several thick leaves stacked together. The white stalk is not peeled before cooking because it would lose too much flavor.
Nutrition & Health Benefit of leeks
Leeks are low in calorie but it stores tons of nutrients in it. Hence this vegetable has a lot of health benefits of eating this. Leeks are abundant in vitamin A, K, C, B6, folate and manganese. These are also rich in antioxidants.
Few of the health benefits are -
- antioxidants help protect against severe diseases like cancer, diabetes
- may reduce the inflammation
- helps protect heart health by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and lowers risk of heart attack
- rich in fiber helps in keeping the gut healthy
- gives satiety and reducing hunger and appetite
What do leeks taste like?
Fresh and young harvest leeks taste better when they are young. They taste more like onions giving a milder sweet flavor. As leeks get older, the green parts begin to get thicker and their texture becomes less tender.
The leaves of the top is harder and tastes more intense than that of the tender part towards the base. Therefore, these are not used in cooking. However, they can add flavor to your broth.
Leeks not only resembles onion and garlic, it also tastes a lot similar to both of them. Leek is milder than onion but stronger than garlic. As a general rule, you can substitute a finely chopped leek for one large onion or three shallots.
Leek's taste belongs to alkaline taste. According to Ayurvedic medicine it has heating nature. The main taste of leek is sweet, bitter and little bit pungent tastes. It also contains sour taste but this taste isn't strong like taste of lemon.
How to store leeks?
Leek normally stays good for ten days when stored properly. So they must be stored correctly for optimal time of consumption. The main causes of leek going bad are moisture, light, and temperature. Excessive dryness in the storage environment too will make the leeks decay fast.
Make sure to use the fresh harvests for the cooking for the best flavors. If they have dried up before you store them, they may rot and decay fast. While storing don't store in air-tight containers as that may cause too much dry condition speeding up the decaying process.
Don't store the leeks with fruits because most of the fruits produce ethylene gas that may spoil the vegetables. Also, make sure not to wash the leeks until they are ready to cut for cooking. This is because wetness can cause mold growth with exposure to moisture.
How to clean leeks?
Cleaning leeks can seem like a tough task, but it's very important to remove the dirt that hides between the leaves. This is bad for health as well.
Cut off any dry green parts at the end of the leek and remove the tough exterior leaves if any. Rinse under running water, making sure the inside of the leek is completely rinsed. The dirt usually hides in between the layers so be thorough and try to use only what you know is clean. Rinse once more after you cut them to make sure it's dirt-free.
How to cut leek?
Before you cut the leeks, you must clean the leeks as mentioned above.
Cut off and remove the hard leafy part of the leeks. Take only tender white portion for cooking or recipes.
You can chop them horizontally into thin slices or vertically slit them through centre into two halves first. Separate the rings as much possible and place them in a colander. Now run it through cold water.
How to cook leeks for better taste?
To get the best taste out of leeks, it's always better to cut them into rings or chop them into smaller pieces and then cook in place of whole leeks. You can saute leeks, roast them, braise, boil, steam too. Don't cook the leeks for longer because leeks lose their nutrients when cooked longer. You can also add them to your broth for extra flavor.
Read some delicious plant-based vegan leek recipes.