Leek Love

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Leeks are not your everyday vegetable, not the most ubiquitous member of the alliums; when seeking a hit of onion most of us will reach for cooking onions, or red, Spanish or Vidallia onions, or even shallots or scallions. But leeks definitely have their place too, and today we look at how you can get a little leek love into your life.

Those who like leeks like them a lot, going out of their way to use them in classic recipes like cock a leekie soup, vichysoisse, baked into tarts and quiches or chopped fresh and mixed into salads. Leeks have been part of classic cuisine for ages, appearing in the diet of the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians and gracing the tables of that old rascal, Emperor Nero. But in terms of impact on a cultural identity, nobody gives the leek more love than the Welsh; so much so that the leek is a national emblem of the Welsh.

 

Welsh Guards Crest

Welsh Guards Crest

 

Legend has it that in one particular battle in the seventh Century, Welsh soldiers were ordered to wear leeks in their helmets to distinguish them from their arch-enemies, the Saxons. This battle, of course. took place in a leek field. According to another tradition, Saint David, a sixth Century Welsh Celtic Christian is said to have eaten nothing but leeks during his fasts, so on his feast day, March 1st, Welsh citizens are often seen sporting a leek or two, literally wearing their leek love on their sleeves and, of course, coming up with delicious ways to integrate more leeks into their feasting.

 

Leek Welsh Rarebit

Leek Welsh Rarebit

Leeks are a great go-to ingredient in tarts and quiches, especially as they marry so beautifully with cheese like stilton, gruyere cheddar and blue cheese. They also grill beautifully, especially for a dish like this fantastic salad of grilled leeks and tomato with citrus dressing, This will be great recipe when things warm a bit and you’re looking to grill up something fantastic at home or at the cottage.

 

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But today, and the forthcoming week look more like soup days rather than grilling days, so perhaps a big pot of traditional cock a leekie soup is a better way to get your leek fix. Here is a great recipe that calls for lots of leeks, and prunes, a delicious, simple and hearty meal in one dish that will definitely increase your level of leek love.

 

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