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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
Leek

Lovin' Leeks


When was the last time you came across a recipe calling for leeks? In talking with our Small Farm's Educator, these veggies are gaining some popularity among Illinois growers. Expect to start seeing them more often!

Leeks are a member of the onion family. Instead of forming a bulb like an onion, leeks develop a long, thick stem that can be cut and used in recipes. While still strong, leeks have a mild onion flavor. They may be a good substitution if you do not like the potency of onions.

Nutritionally, 1 cup of chopped leeks contains around 55 calories, 13g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and K, folate, and potassium. Like other vegetables, it is not a significant source of fat or sodium. Since leeks are in the same family as onions and garlic, leeks contain similar compounds that may be protective against some diseases, such as cancer.

  • Buy: Choose leeks that are firm with more of the white and light green stem. Leek leaves should be deep green; avoid those with yellow or discolored leaves.
  • Price: Leeks cost around $2.99 per bunch (usually 2 or 3 leeks in a bunch). With all those leaves, leeks can get pretty big and heavy, so be aware of how much you will use for your recipe. Choose smaller leeks to save some money.
  • Store: Keep unwashed leeks cool – a refrigerator works well – and use within a few weeks.
  • Prepare: Cut away the tough dark green leaves (use in vegetable broths or stocks). Use the white and some of the light green portions of the stem in recipes. Leeks have many layers that pick up dirt and soil as they grow. Cut leeks into the size for your recipe and thoroughly wash to remove all the grit.
  • Eat: While often used in cooked recipes, leeks can be eaten raw too. Soups and stews commonly include leeks, but they are great to use any place you also use onions.

References:

University of Maryland Extension. Grow It, Eat It: Leeks. 2010.
Clemson Cooperative Extension. Onion, Leek, Shallot & Garlic. 2003.

Try leeks in this stir-fry recipe. They will add a nice flavor without giving a strong aroma.

Curried Carrots and Peas with Shrimp (Serves 4)

If carrots and peas are not your favorite, use other vegetables that you like instead.

1 Tbsp olive oil or cooking oil
2 cups coarsely shredded or julienne carrots
1 large leek, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp nonfat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
1 lb peeled, deveined medium fresh shrimp (may be frozen)
1 cup dry brown rice, cooked

1. Add oil to a large, deep skillet and heat over medium heat. Add carrots, leek, and garlic. Sauté mixture about 5-8 minutes, or until carrots and leek are tender.
2. Add curry, pepper, and flour to skillet and stir to coat vegetables. Add broth and stir until sauce thickens.
3. Reduce heat to low and stir in yogurt, juice, parsley, and peas. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is heated through and peas are tender. (Avoid boiling mixture as yogurt could curdle.)
4. Add shrimp and cook until they are opaque and tender. Serve over rice.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 430 calories, 7g fat, 940mg sodium, 66g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 26g protein

Recipe presented at Kirby's Kitchen, 2013

WEB HIGHLIGHT: Need more recipes? Try the Creamy Potato Leek Soup from Illinois Nutrition Education Programs.



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