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December Vegetable of the Month: Leek

The December Vegetable of the Month is Leek!

Leeks aren’t getting the credit they deserve! Did you know they are actually loaded with health benefits? They contain antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-cancer properties. Plus their mild, sweet flavor makes them perfect for soups or any recipe that calls for onion or garlic!

A Leek is a Good Source of:

  • Vitamin A—for cell heath
  • Vitamin K—aiding bone and brain health
  • Vitamin C—a powerful antioxidant for your immune system
  • Folate—healthy cell growth and function
  • Fiber—great for liver and digestive health

Did You Know?

  • Leeks look like a giant green onion, but have a milder taste.
  • Leeks contain folate, which is key in healthy pregnancies.
  • In addition to probiotics, your body needs beneficial bacteria called prebiotics, which are in leeks!

How to Choose and Store Leeks

Leeks are in-season during the winter and early spring, but can generally be found year-round. Ready-to-eat leeks should be firm and crisp with quite a bit of white and light green coloring. Those with yellow or withered tops should be avoided. Unwashed leeks can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. Be sure to always wash them after cutting and before eating, as they often have dirt within the layers. 

Tips to Get Children to Eat Leeks

  • Chop into small pieces, then cook and mix them into mashed potatoes!
  • Add to their favorite cheesy casserole.
  • Let kids build their own salad using a variety of good-for-you ingredients, leeks included!

Ways to Prepare Leeks

  • Raw
  • Sauté
  • Roast
  • Boil

Let’s Get Cooking

Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sliced leeks
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup + ⅓ cup chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons instant potato flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or ½ tablespoon dried)

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the leeks and onion in the butter for 5 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Pour in the broth and the milk and mix well.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in potato flakes, salt, celery salt, and parsley.
  6. Allow to thicken and heat through.
  7. Top with green onion and low-fat cheese.

Leek and Potato Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups leeks, sliced
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 cups red potatoes, chopped
  • ⅓ cup fat-free milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, reduced fat

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add oil to a sauté pan over medium heat.
  3. Add leeks to the sauté pan and cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and potatoes; and cook for 2 minutes or until the spinach wilts.
  5. Combine the milk, seasoning, salt, pepper, 4 egg whites, 4 eggs in a separate bowl and whisk well.
  6. Pour the contents from the sauté pan into the egg mixture.
  7. Coat a 9.5-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and pour the entire mixture within.
  8. Sprinkle the top with cheese and breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for 20–25 minutes.
  10. For a golden brown top, broil for 4 minutes after baking.

For more creative leek-based recipes visit Eating Well! With so many possibilities, like Cheesy Zucchini Quiche, Slow-Cooker Citrus Salmon with Melted Leeks, and Vegan Lentil Stew you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, Dr. Axe, Eating Well

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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