Leeks resemble large green onions, but they are milder and sweeter and when chopped they don’t cause your eyes to tear. In its raw state, this vegetable is firm and crunchy. The edible portion of the leek is the white base of the leaves, above the roots and stem base. When cooking with leeks, the dark green portion is usually discarded because of its tough texture yet is more flavorful. Leeks are often added to stock and can be sautéed (they are included in both potato and leek soup and vichyssoise). When using fresh leeks, clean and wash thoroughly.
Since they belong to the same genus as onions and garlic, in the allium vegetables, they contain the same healthy vitamins and minerals. They also have important amounts of the flavonoid kaempferol which has been shown to help protect blood vessel lining from damage.
Leeks as well as onions were part of the Egyptian diet and archaeological sites indicate carvings and drawings referencing dried leeks. Emperor Nero is said to have consumed leeks in soup or in oil because he believed it was beneficial to the quality of his voice. It was his favorite vegetable. There is also Biblical reference in Numbers 11 where the Israelites enjoyed leeks, onions, and garlic.
Even today the leek has been given a prominent position joined with the daffodil as the cap badge for the Welsh Guards in Wales.
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