My first recipe post will be about the leek. I don't know if it is widely used in the US, but it has more than its fair share of recipe uses in Greece. Also, it is a favourite in my family, and a staple in the weekly shopping list.
The leek is an excellent source of vitamin C, iron and fiber. It has been shown to promote the good functioning of the blood vessels and heart, increasing the HDL-"good" cholesterol levels, while decreasing the LDL-"bad" ones. As well as this, its use has been associated with a reduced risk of colon, prostate and ovarian cancer.
The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and the light green stalk. However, some people may even eat the leaves - it is more a matter of personal preference and habit. When preparing them, you first need to remove any damaged or tired leaves. Then, trim the rootlets at the base, and cut off approximately half to two thirds of the dark green tops. After that, you can dice them or chop them, depending on the recipe and the way it is easier for you. Don't forget to rinse them well.
Leeks should be stored in the refrigerator, unwashed and untrimmed, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag, and they keep for up to two weeks. This is the right way to do it. However, due to the fact that I don't own an olympic dimension fridge, I like to cheat a little. I trim them, rinse them and then store them in an airtight container - this way they are ready to use anytime, and they fit inside, without having to get rid of half of my other stuff! Of course, they don't keep for two weeks this way, but they last until the end of the week or so. Leeks can also be frozen (I haven't tried it myself, because I don't own a freezer), for up to 3 months.
And, as promised, one Greek recipe using leeks. This one is meatless, but at least one more will be following soon, including meat. It is called "prasoryzo" (which means "rice and leeks" in Greek), it is healthy, vegan friendly, and can be perfectly accompanied with a chunk of feta cheese on the side. It can be used both as a main, and as a side dish.
- 1 kg (2 pounds) leeks
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 shallots
- 2 bell peppers, preferably green
- 3 very ripe tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup white rice
- lemon juice from 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking time: 70 mins
Ready in: 1 h 30 mins
- Trim the leeks, cut them lenghtwise in quarters, slice them and rinse them well under running water.
- Dice the shallots and red peppers.
- Peel, core and chop the tomatoes.
- Fill 3/4 of a large pot with water, bring it to boil, and add leeks. Boil them for 5 - 10 minutes, then drain them and set aside.
- In the same pot, add the olive oil and sautee the shallots and peppers, until they are tender.
- Add the leeks, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add as much water as needed, in order to cover everything (approximately 2 cups). Boil for 40 minutes, or until leeks are no longer crunchy.
- Finally, add the rice, cover and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally (you may need to add 1 to 1 1/2 cups more water, to make sure that everything is covered).
- Just before serving, add the lemon juice. Enjoy!