More delicate than onions, leeks are perfect for a thousand preparations, from salads, to starters, side dishes and even as a main dish.
The leeks they are a vegetable that belongs to the same family of garlic and onion although it does not form a real bulb. It has a more delicate part, formed by many white leaves called sheaths, which overlap forming a cylindrical structure. The same leaves thicken then and become a light green color: this part is not normally used even if for some recipes it is used as a container.
Summer and winter leeks
There are two main varieties of leeks, a summer and winter. Both have a delicate flavor, but they have small peculiarities that differentiate them. The best and tastiest are the winter leeks, which however have the hardest sheaths. Summer leeks, on the other hand, have a more delicate taste and are more tender, so that with long cooking they blend almost completely.
How to choose them
To be very fresh, the leek must not show any lesions or part blackened or yellowed. It must be well firm and compact, with the cheeks attached to each other. It is prepared by cutting off the ends with the roots and separating the white part from the green one, which does not necessarily have to be thrown away. In the case of winter leeks, it is very often necessary remove the first sheath, too hard and leathery to be cooked. To clean them from the earth they sometimes contain, the sheaths must be cut with a sharp knife, from top to bottom, and then slightly opened, rinsing them under a jet of fresh water.
How to cook them
The leeks have a delicate and less intense taste of onion. For this reason you can also eat raw, cut into slices and added to various salads or sliced for the long and combined with peppers, carrots and celery for a fresh and low-calorie dip. Its delicate flavor makes it perfect for a sauté to be used for an omelette or for a saffron risotto. Stuffed with cheese, the leeks are baked, for a tasty and nutritious side dish. Boiled together with some potatoes, it is ideal for preparing a velvety, to be served smooth or with toasted croutons.