Leeks are a member of the alium family and have a delicate, mild onion flavour with a delicious sweetness. They are available all year round, but are at their best from September to March. Excellent in stews, soups and stir fries, try cooking them whole in a little chicken stock until tender then drain, wrap in slices of ham, lay in a baking dish, cover with cheese sauce and bake until golden.
Choose firm, clean, unblemished leeks with a crisp texture. Young baby leeks will be sweeter and tenderer. Store leeks in the fridge for up to a week. Wrap in a plastic bag to contain their onion-like odour.
How to cook
Leeks grow up through the earth and so soil may be trapped within the leaves. Trim off the top 2-3cm of tough leaves and remove the dry outer leaves. Cut them along the length of the green part to where it meets the white leaves and rinse inside upsidedown under cold running water to remove any dirt. Cut leaves into strips or rings, discarding the root end. Place them in a pan with 1-2cm water, boil then simmer until almost all the water has evaporated and the leeks are tender. This will only take 4-5 minutes, then add a knob of butter and season with a little black pepper. Or make delicious leek and potato soup or leek and cheese tart.