Unraveling Leeks

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“Just the facts, ma’am.”
“Well, I was trying to open my TakeHome case, and Blam-o! A secret agent man tackled my box.”
“”˜Blam-o,’ huh? How did he get here?”
“By helicopter.”
“Helicopter, huh? Did he say anything?”
“Yeah. He said the president of the CIA would—”
“CIA, huh?”
“Culinary Institute of America.”
“What’s in the box?”
“Wiki-leeks.”

The leeks in your TakeHome box this week are 100% conflict-free, harvested from the organic fields of Blue Herron Farm in Watsonville, CA (Santa Cruz county). Like onion and garlic, leeks belong to the genus Allium—but instead of forming a bulb, the layers grow cylindrically into a stalk. To get the tender white stalks, the farmer has to keep “hilling” soil around the stalk to blanche it. This results in tender and tasty leeks, but requires a little more effort in cleaning and prep.

Being of onion relations, albeit more mild, leeks are a fabulous foundation to any sauce or soup. They are part of the mirepoix triumvirate—onion, carrot, and celery. If leeks have a patron saint, it would be Julia Child. Historically, leeks were more common in Europe than the U.S., and Julia brought us many delicious ways to prepare them—braised with radishes and aromatic herbs or in a gratin. Prepared simply or with flourishes, the big secret to leeks is butter. Or, as Julia says, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

Prepare: Wash leeks well right before use. Trim root end and dark green top. Slice lengthwise and rinse layers, or slice into rings and rinse in a colander.

Storage: Wrap leeks in plastic to contain moisture and prevent other foods from absorbing their odor. They’ll last up to five days in the fridge.

By Heidi Lewis

 

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