Cooktop Cove: Pick up some leeks from the store and copy these recipes
Leeks are real head-turners. Shoppers glance at them quickly, walk on, but then often turn around to check them out up close. Is it a scallion on steroids? They smell them and get a light whiff of onion. After turning them over a few times, shoppers usually pass up the lovely leeks for something more familiar like a russet potato. Don't pass them up! Leeks are wonderfully versatile, with a unique taste and texture that are often addictive.
The first record of leek cultivation goes back over 3,000 years in Egypt, and leeks are now grown around the world. This large vegetable — a member of the lily family — can reach almost 5 feet tall, although the very green ends of leeks aren't considered edible by most people. The best flavor is found in the white and light green parts. Leeks are equally delicious raw and cooked, and they pair particularly well with any variety of potatoes. They're loaded with dietary fibers, vitamins of the B-group, vitamins A, C and K, and minerals, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Potato leek soup
This favorite French restaurant menu item is easy to make at home. You can wow a potluck crowd with it or serve it as a first course at an elegant dinner party. Blending the soft garlic, velvety Yukon gold potatoes and broth until smooth as silk, and then adding cream at the end creates an unforgettable soup that garners rave reviews. Get the recipe here
Simplicity is the answer when you want a perfect side dish for any protein or a light vegetarian lunch. Three ingredients — butter, leeks, and fine sea salt — are all you need. The secret to the tantalizing flavor is cooking them low and slow to let the natural sweetness of the leeks release into the butter. Get the recipe here
Parmesan roasted leeks
Yet another vegetable reaps the benefits of oven roasting. A quick stovetop simmer gives a jump-start to this delicious dish before you put it in the oven. Taste it when it's done before adding salt, as Parmesan has a lot of salt in it and intensifies in flavor when the leeks get crispy and golden. Get the recipe here
Spicy garlic potato leek soup
If you find traditional potato-leek soup a bit too mild for your palate, this is a spicy alternative. In addition to Yukon gold potatoes, a sweet potato adds depth. Once you add curry powder, turmeric, chili powder and cardamom, then blend until smooth, you should check the taste to make sure it's not too overpowering. You can always adjust with honey or coconut milk to reduce the heat. Get the recipe here
Leek and Parmesan muffins
Step aside sweet muffins — there's a savory muffin in town ready to compete. A healthy addition of freshly grated Parmesan and buttermilk keep the sweetness at bay, making them ideal for snacking or as a soup or breakfast accompaniment. For feather-light muffins, be sure not to overmix the batter. Get the recipe here
Leek and potato cakes
Loaded with caramelized leeks and earthy mashed potatoes seasoned with garlic powder, this is the vegetarian entree that guests will request over and over. Freshly grated nutmeg and chopped fresh parsley add that special touch to make seconds a guarantee. Cooking the cakes ahead of time and chilling them ensures a beautiful, flavorful dish. Get the recipe here
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