For a fantastic winter British vegetable, packed with great taste and health boosting properties, look no further than the lovely British leek! For many years this vegetable was grown on the light, fertile East Lothian soils, possibly having been introduced as early as the 14th century by Dutch settlers.
Amongst the 20th century market gardeners who worked the East Lothian soils was the Lowes family who are credited with refining the leek until they had produced a hardy strain which is suitable for cold East Lothian winters and has become popular the world over, taking with it, of course, the name Musselburgh leek.
While its often harder to source locally grown, fresh vegetables during the winter period â€“ the leek is one British green that can provide flavour, taste and nutrients throughout the coldest months of the year. Launching on 1st November, the British Leek season runs right through to April.
And because leeks are packed with vitamins and crucial anti-oxidants, eating leeks can help stave off winter colds and flu too.
So if youâ€™re looking for a vegetable that has been popular through the ages or just a delicious, nutritious and seasonal food to see you through the winter months; something that can be roasted, baked or braised and has a sweet taste and a smooth texture â€“ then the British Leek is for you!
Three top tips for selecting leeks:
Choose small to medium leeks as these have the most tender texture
Pick firm, straight leeks with dark green leaves and white necks
Watch out for yellow or wilted leeks or those with cracked or bruised bulbs
Did you know?
Emperor Nero was known as Porophagus (leek eater) because he believed eating leeks would help his singing voice
In the Middle Ages it was claimed young girls who slept with a leek under their pillow would see their future husband in their dreams
In 640AD when fighting Saxon invaders Welsh soldiers wore leeks in their hats and subsequently gained a great victory.
See these articles for more information on leeks
And here’s a delicious recipe for a special occasion or just because you love it!
A really delicious robust dish, which is also a healthy option too!
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 10 mins
2x5ml tsp Light and mild olive oil
1x15ml tbsp Lemon grass paste
350g leeks, trimmed and sliced into 2cm rounds
500g Mussels in shells, rinsed and scrubbed
250g Shell on prawns
1/2l Boiling water or fish stock
75g Low fat soft cream cheese
Sprinkling Ground sea salt and black pepper
2x15ml tbsp Fresh chopped parsley
- Lightly sautÃ© the leeks, garlic and crushed lemon grass in the oil to soften. Add the mussels and prawns and cook over a medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes
- Drain stock and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the cream cheese, seasonings and parsley along with the leeks and seafood. Heat until just simmering.
- Serve with crusty bread