A relative of garlic and onion, leeks have a mild sweet flavour when cooked. Raw leeks have an overpowering flavour and are very rarely eaten. Small to medium sized leeks are the most tender. Look for leeks that have a firm white bulb and bright green leaves.
Uses: Small leeks are suitable to serve whole as a vegetable accompaniment such as leeks in a cheese sauce. Larger leeks are ideal for chopping and adding to casseroles, soups, pies and flans. Leeks combine particularly well with potatoes and other root vegetables such as swede or carrots, either in soups or in pie fillings. Leeks and crumbly white cheese such as Cheshire or Caerphilly are often a popular combination in cooked dishes.
To store: Wrap in a plastic bag (to prevent their strong odour flavouring other foods) and keep in the bottom of the fridge or in a cool, dark place for up to 1 week.
To prepare: Leeks need to be washed very thoroughly before cooking as mud and grit can penetrate between the layers of the flesh. Trim off the roots and any tough green leaves and halve lengthways, rinse under cold running water until all traces of soil have been removed then cut into lengths or rings as desired.
To cook: Leeks can be boiled, braised or steamed. Sliced leeks should be cooked for 5-7 minutes until tender but still firm. Whole small leeks should be cooked for 10-15 minutes until tender but still firm, top with a cheese sauce and then brown under a preheated grill for 5 minutes or until golden.