The World's Healthiest Foods

Cooking Healthy with Leeks

The arrival of spring makes me think about the wild spring onions I saw when traveling around the U.S. In some areas, delicate chive-like spring onions were growing along the roadsides. In other areas, people were gathering ramps, a very pungent onion highly prized by the local people in the mountainous regions in the southwestern United States. Leeks, another favorite spring onion, comes into season in many areas in April. Like other allium family members, such as garlic, leeks are known for their cleansing and detoxifying properties. Less pungent that most other allium vegetables, leeks have a delicate flavor that lends itself nicely to light dishes.

When I cook leeks, I like to slice just the white, tender part of the plant lengthwise into very thin (1/8th-inch) strips for most dishes, then let them sit for 5-10 minutes. This allows the enzymes released by cutting to form the sulfur compounds responsible for allium vegetables' many health benefits. I save the tops to simmer with other vegetables for a flavorful vegetable broth.

When cooking leeks, my "Healthy Sauté" method delivers the tastiest results while retaining the most nutrients. For a pound of sliced leeks, you'll want to initially heat 3 tablespoons of broth in a stainless steel skillet on medium heat until it begins to steam. Add your sliced leeks, cover and sauté for 4 minutes. Add another 2 tablespoons broth, reduce the heat to low, leave off the cover, and sauté another 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Your leeks will be melt-in-the-mouth tender, while retaining their rich, slightly sweet flavor.

Leeks are the perfect addition to many dishes. Our Braised Salmon with Leeks is a very good tasting one. The flavor of the leeks with tarragon and salmon is a terrific example of the delicate taste of leeks as a perfect complement to light dishes. For complete instructions on cutting leeks, click on leeks in the ingredient list within this recipe. And for our in-depth profile on leeks, including all their health benefits click leeks.

This should give you everything you need to prepare, know and enjoy this wonderful "World's Healthiest Food," Leeks.