Leeks are probably better known to most people as leeks. But many also think that leeks and leeks are two different vegetables. The fact is, this vegetable simply has two different names. Leek is very versatile. It can be used in casseroles, for example, but it is just as delicious in a soup or in an omelet. Not only can it be served with various dishes, it is also very healthy. Thus, the leek was once even considered a medicinal plant.
The origin, properties and history of leeks
The leek is related to garlic and wild garlic and belongs, like the onion to the daffodil family. It has been around for more than 4,000 years and originated in the western Mediterranean. It is said that the Egyptian slaves ate it during the construction of the pyramids. Emperor Nero also ate a lot of leeks because he was convinced that it improved his singing voice. Leeks found their way to us in the Middle Ages.
In terms of taste, the leek is similar to the onion. However, the root vegetable is much milder than the onion. The vegetable can reach a size of up to 80 cm. Instead of an onion, the leek has green leaves, which grow fan-like from the white shaft.
The vegetable is in season all year round. However, a distinction is made between summer and winter leeks. The main difference here is the taste. While the summer leek tastes rather mild, the winter leek is particularly intense in flavor.
The ingredients of leeks
Here it should actually be, what is not contained in leeks? The vegetable has endless healthy ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements as well as secondary plant compounds. In addition, leeks are very low in calories and yet have a lot of fiber. On 100 g leeks come just 30 kcal.
The main ingredients in leeks are: Inulin, vitamin C and K, beta-carotene, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese and allicin.
The effect of leeks on our body
Leek has a very beneficial effect on our body. It is a slimming agent, has an antibiotic effect, stimulates our immune system, supports our digestion, has a positive effect on our cardiovascular system, is healthy for bones and teeth, it purifies and supports our kidneys.
However, there is an additional positive effect that hardly anyone would have expected: leeks can lift our mood. But why is that so? That have to owe the ingredient manganese and the vitamin B1 and B6. Manganese helps the body to use vitamin B better. And vitamin B is good for our nerves. This means that our mood is lifted and stress and depression are prevented.
Leeks in the kitchen
As already mentioned, leek is versatile. Cooked, it is mostly used in combination with onion, carrot, celery and parsley as soup vegetables. As a side dish, the root vegetable tastes good with meat and fish. For this purpose, it is simply sautéed or steamed. Cut into fine rings, it is the icing on pizza or quiche or in a casserole. Raw, it can be used to refine salads, sauces and dressings.
In short, you can use leeks boiled, steamed, braised, blanched and briefly fried, raw, as a garnish, to enhance or as the main ingredient.
But before you can process leeks at all, you need to properly clean them, because between the leaves and layers accumulate sand and soil. Therefore, you need to clean it thoroughly under running water. The easiest way to do this is to first remove the outermost (unsightly) layer and cut off the tops. Then cut the leek lengthwise. In this way, each individual layer can be rinsed clean.
ATTENTION! Many cut away the entire green leaves and throw them in the trash. This is a great pity, because you can also use the leaves just like the stem. The leaves can be used up to 15 centimeters above the white shaft.
Buying and storing leeks
Only a fresh leek tastes good. Therefore, when buying, you should make sure that the leaves are not wilted and have a strong green color. If the leaves look blotchy or yellowish, it is a sign that the leek is no longer fresh. The stem, or shank, should also look crisp and juicy and it should not show any tears or damage. The root hairs should still be white. Brown root hairs are also a sign that the leek is no longer fresh.
It is best to store the leeks in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. However, you should wrap it in a bag or foil beforehand. Not only will it stay fresh longer, but it will also prevent the leeks from giving off their intense odor and flavor to other foods. In the refrigerator, the vegetables will keep between five and seven days.
However, leeks can also be frozen well. To do this, simply clean the vegetable already and cut into rings or cubes and blanch. This way you can take it directly out of the freezer and prepare it, because leeks should not be defrosted, but processed frozen. In the freezer, the vegetables will keep for a minimum of three months.
How about a delicious leek dish? The AOK has the perfect recipes for you: