From Plot to Plate: Leeks

Growing Leeks

Leeks are, I think, my utter favourite member of the allium family. They are also, in theory, remarkably easy to grow with a whole host of varieties available. Start out seeds in pots in February (and then sow intermittently for a year round crop), pot on seedlings to a bigger pot and then, when they have reached about 15cm tall and about the thickness of a pencil, plant out in to a bed. You do this wonderful thing with leeks when you plant them out, you just pop them in the holes and fill with water, not earth and the earth just sort of sinks in around them. Hint; the deeper your holes the longer the white ‘stem’ of the leek.

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Eating Leeks

A more subtle flavour than their punchier cousin the onion and more versatile than the garlic (although you can read me wax lyrical about garlic here) they still hold their own alongside stronger flavours. Blue cheese, mushrooms, cheese, ham and of course, potato. Now, I know leek and potato soup is a classic, but I’m quite fond of this twist on it.

Leek & Celeriac soup

half a celeriac

2 or 3 leeks, depending on size

a small onion

butter

vegetable stock

  1. dice all your vegetables

  2. sweat the onion in the melted butter until translucent

  3. add the leeks and sweat for a few moments

  4. add the celeriac and continue to sweat

  5. cover with stock and bring to the boil

  6. simmer until celeriac tender

  7. blend smooth and season to taste

  8. serve with crusty bread, blue cheese and bacon and enjoy

Knowing Leeks

Leeks in the UK are well associated with Wales to the point that they featured alongside the Tudor rose, Scottish thistle, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, and Indian lotus on Elizabeth II coronation gown. The actual association is said to be from a battle that took place in a leek field between the Welsh and the Saxons when King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd told his soldiers to place leeks in their helms to identify eachother. I have no clue if they won the battle or what happens if they lost the leek during the ensuing fight but either way I hope the victors made a good soup after and didn’t let them all go to waste!

Peas, love & cider,

C

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