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Lovely Leeks

How to select and cook with leeks

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What’s a leek? It’s a long vegetable in the onion family. It’s sweet and less bitter than a scallion. Leeks look like giant scallions. The edible bits are the white onion base and the light green stalk. Leeks are more delicate in flavor then onions. They add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors within the dish. Leeks won’t make you manly men cry when you cut them.

Leeks are available throughout the year. However, they are at their best when they are in season from the fall to the early part of the spring.

How to Select a Leek
Select leeks with a clean white slender bulb, at least two to three inches of white, and firm, tightly-rolled dark green tops. The base should be at least 1-2 inches in diameter, although most are much larger, usually 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches. The younger the leek, the more delicate the flavor and texture. Look for the slim, cylindrical ones rather than those that are large and bulbous. If the bottoms are beginning to round into bulb shapes, the leeks are a bit too mature.

Leek Storage
Leeks will exude an aroma that can be absorbed by other things in your refrigerator, so to store them before cooking, lightly wrap them in plastic wrap to contain the odor and moisture. Do not trim or wash before storing. Store in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.

Depending on the freshness factor when you buy them, leeks can be stored anywhere from five days up to two weeks. Cooked leeks should be covered, refrigerated, and used within one to two days.

Cooking Leeks
There are different ways of preparing the vegetable:

* Boiled, which turns it soft and mild in taste.
* Fried, which leaves it more crunchy and preserves the taste.
* Raw, which can be used in salads, doing especially well when they are in their prime.
* Braise
* Puree
* Steam
* Stew

Leeks pair well with:

Bechamel sauce;
Bread crumbs;
Cheese, especially Gruyere;
Hollandaise sauce;
Olive oil;
Parmesan cheese;
Wine, red


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