The national symbol of Wales, leeks are a member of the Allium family and are related to garlic and onions.
Used for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes, leeks grow straight up from the ground, the flat leaves growing up from a cylindrical, rounded bulb, overlapping each other in a concentric pattern. To lengthen the white portion, growers pile dirt around the base, blocking sunlight to this part. This practice means leeks collect a lot of dirt between their leaves and need to be thoroughly washed.
Supply is regular throughout the year with limited supply, November to February, when increasing day length triggers the plant’s natural reaction of bolting to seed causing flowering to occur.
Leeks have been an important part of European and British Isles cuisine for centuries. Leek is the two well-known soups, Scotland’s cock-a-leekie and the main ingredient in the two well-known soups, Scotland’s cock-a-leekie and France’s crème vichyssoise. From these famous recipes, we know that leeks pair well with cream, potato, lemon, poultry and bacon. Generally sautéed in oil or butter to soften, much like onions, they are then used as the base of braises, soups, risottos, in pies, tarts and more.
For two fresh, seasonal side dishes matched with chicken, sauté leeks with white wine, lemon and garlic before adding peas and mint, or try adding walnuts, tarragon and a vinaigrette. Cover a flaky pastry base with sliced leeks, potato, goats’ cheese and cooking cream for a simple rustic tart. Serve with a green side salad for a perfect vegetarian lunch option. Pair with another autumnal hero – Brussels sprouts – and add lemon, Parmesan and a short pasta, such as penne or rigatoni.
Baby leeks offer an interesting alternative to the regular sized leek. Their tender white stems mean the whole leek can be served, giving chefs an alternative shape and texture while enjoying the leek flavour. Baby leeks are great charred, baked and stir-fried.
Majority grown in and around the Horowhenua in the lower North Island.
Make these vegetarian solutions even easier and use our Prepared Produce leeks, where we ensure leeks are dirt free and offer labour-saving sliced or diced solutions.