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The leek's thick, cylindrical, white, edible root gradually becomes a stalk with an attractive fan of dark green flat leaves. Not forming bulbs or producing cloves, leeks develop an edible six to ten inch long round stem that can measure two inches in diameter. Offering an distinct flavor, the texture is juicy. Leeks are considered to be the sweetest, most mild members of the onion family.
Leeks are available year-round with a peak season in late winter or early spring.
The natural life cycle of a leek dictates that it must reproduce. This happens more often during later spring or early summer months when the weather becomes warmer. If the leek is not harvested in a timely manner, seasonal warmth will trigger the leek to flower and begin 'going to seed', causing the core to become more solid, cork like and lose its pronounced rings.
Though leeks are often interchangeable with onions and garlic, they can require specific preparation and are often highlighted in recipes for their particular flavor. Slowly cook sliced leeks in olive oil and butter until soft, then toss with beans and pasta. Cook with potatoes and vegetable broth, the puree for a classic potato-leek soup. Slow-cook with butter and cream and serve with seafood such as seared scallops. Grill whole or halved leeks and serve as a started or topping for bruschette. Braise in wine and vegetable stalk until very tender, then top with a mustard-based vinaigrette. Add sauteed leeks to quiche, savory tarts or pies. To store, refrigerate in a plastic bag up to three days.
Recipes that include Leek. One is easiest, three is harder.