Leek

Leek

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A member of the onion family, grown for its fleshy stem which is banked with soil while growing so that it remains white. Its flavour is sweeter and more delicate than that of onions. Leeks are much used in soups and are an essential ingredient in Vichyssoise, perhaps the greatest cold soup of all. They are one of the nicest vegetables to serve cold as a first course or part of an hors d’oeuvre platter; they make an interesting and delicious hot vegetable too.

When buying leeks, look for medium to small ones, with firm, unblemished stems and unwilted green tops. Trim tops a little but leave roots on; stand in a little cold water in a jug, cover with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Use within a week.

Basic preparation: Because of the way they are grown, leeks are usually gritty and need careful cleaning. Cut off all but 4–5 cm of the green tops, cutting to a point so that you retain more of the tender inside layers than the outside (use tops to flavour soup or stock). Trim off roots.

If using as a whole vegetable, slit down the middle to within about 2.5 cm of the root end and wash very thoroughly under running water, spreading layers gently to be sure all of the grit is washed out.

If leeks are to be chopped or sliced, it is easiest to cut them up first, then place in a colander and wash grit off under cold running water.

Ingredients

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