Leek, a vegetable that is healthy all year round

An essential ingredient in our winter soups, leeks are also a healthy vegetable that can be eaten in any season and that lends itself to many other recipes.

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Leek, a vegetable that is healthy all year round

Leek identity card

The leek (Allium leek) is a biennial, bulbous and aromatic herbaceous plant belonging to the Alliaceae family, as garlic Where onion. If its origins are uncertain (we are talking about the Mediterranean region, probably the Middle East), it seems established, on the other hand, that its culture is very old. From the beginning of Antiquity, it appears in numerous testimonies, whether in Egypt (hieroglyphics on the Pyramid of Cheops), at the table of the Romans (Emperor Nero was nicknamed the ” porrophage »), Or later, in the De Villis chapter, a legislative act of the end of the 8th / beginning of the 9th century in which Charlemagne advocated, even ordered in the gardens of the royal domain, the cultivation of a hundred plants, herbs , trees and shrubs.

Since the Middle Ages, leeks have been part of soups, and it’s not about to stop!

As for its appearance, it has evolved well over the centuries. Evidenced by the remains of leeks dating from 1550 BC. JC found in Egyptian tombs, which had very long and very thin leaves. That of the Romans, meanwhile, had a large bulb and a thin shaft. But already, at the end of the 14th century, there was a distinction between winter leek and summer leek.

The different varieties of leeks

There are many varieties of leeks which are defined by the length and size of the bole, the color (blue-green to green-yellow) and the shape of the foliage (erect or drooping), as well as their earliness and resistance to cold. According to these last two criteria, the following are distinguished:

  • leeks suitable for summer-autumn cultivation: Fast growing early leeks, usually light green foliage.
    Examples of varieties: ‘Jaune Gros du Poitou’, ‘Gros long d’été’, Albos’, ‘de Carentan’ …
  • leeks suitable for winter cultivation: Leeks with large bole topped, most of the time, by a sustained blue-green foliage, and regular growth from the spring sowing until the first cold.
    Examples of varieties: ‘Bleu de Solaise’, ‘Winter giant’, ‘Armor’, Saint-Victor ‘…

Leek seasons

Leeks can be eaten all year round.

  • Summer / fall leeks: available from August to October. Poorly resistant to cold, they are harvested before winter.
  • Winter leeks: available from December to April.
  • Early leeks: available from the end of April until July. The taste is sweeter and the fibers finer than other leeks.

How to choose leeks?

The bole should be straight, firm and as white as possible, the leaves should have a strong color, and the roots should be provided.

How to store leeks?

  • 10 days : whole in the crisper of the refrigerator.
  • 5 to 6 days: washed and cut, in a non-airtight container, in the refrigerator.
  • 1 and 2 months: Winter leeks unwashed and with soil around the roots, in a dark, cool and humid place (cellar).

The nutritional qualities of leeks *

Leek is a vegetable interesting for the diversity of vitamins and minerals it contains, necessary for metabolic functions, vitality, natural defenses, good health of the skin, bones and the cardiovascular system.

  • Vitamins: A / Beta-carotene (20.83% of the NRVs), B9 (36.50% of the NRVs), B6 ​​(17.14% of the NRVs), C (23.13% of the NRVs) and K1 (62.67% ) …

  • Minerals and trace elements: potassium (208 mg), calcium (50.70 mg), phosphorus (40.30 mg), manganese, magnesium …

Unfortunately, cooking removes most of the nutrients. Also, to make the most of its benefits, it is advisable to favor gentle steaming.

Rich in water (91.60 g per 100g), leeks are also a good source of fiber, the content of which increases when cooked (3.40 g per 100g). Naturally diuretic, it therefore also stimulates intestinal transit.

The antioxidant content (flavonoids) of its green parts is also useful against cholesterol and cancer prevention.

How to cook leeks?

The white of the leek can be eaten raw, like the onion. Thus, we will integrate it into a salad seasoned with a light vinaigrette sauce, or we will marinate it.

Steam cooked (Steamed vegetables and wild garlic puree), sautéed in a pan or cooked in water, in addition to the famous leek vinaigrette, it incorporates many soup recipes (Express carrot-leek soup), gratins, pancakes (Chorizo ​​leek pancakes), blanks (Leek flans), pies (Leek, broccoli & hazelnut tarts) and other quiches!

Cooking time :

  • 10 minutes steaming;
  • 10 to 15 minutes in a wok or pan;
  • 10 minutes in boiling water.

Ready to grow your leeks?

The best way to eat fresh leeks is still to grow them. To find out how, it’s here: Leek .

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Infographic – Leeks, a year-round healthy vegetable

* Sources: ANSES 2020 (Table of nutritional composition of Ciqual foods) / aprifel.com.

** VNR: nutritional reference value, formerly called Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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