Cooking Leeks

Leeks are a truly versatile vegetable. They have a milder, sweeter flavour than onions and a smooth texture similar to asparagus. In fact, in France leeks are often called the 'poor man's asparagus'.

Leeks can be cooked in all sorts of different and delicious ways including:

• Pan fried - heat a small amount of olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add some sliced leeks and gently cook for about 5-10 minutes until tender

Sautéed - for super healthy leeks, sauté with fennel and garnish with fresh lemon juice and thyme

• Stir fried - heat a little oil over a high heat in a frying pan or wok, add some prepared leeks and stir fry for a few minutes

• Baked - place some sliced leeks in an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with cheese or cover with white sauce and bake for 30-40 minutes at 190°C

• Roasted - pour some olive oil into a roasting tray and add leeks, making sure they are coated all over. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and roast in the oven (210°C) for 30 minutes

• Braised - pour a small amount of chicken or vegetable stock into a frying pan, add some prepared, sliced leeks, cover and gently cook for 10-15 minutes. Braised leeks dusted with fennel or mustard seeds are a delicious accompaniment to fish, poultry or steak

• Raw - spice up a salad by adding finely chopped leeks and dress generously with vinaigrette

Leeks make a fantastically flavoursome vegetable side dish. Equally, they work wonderfully in a wide variety of recipes such as casseroles, omelettes and frittatas, risottos, quiches, pasta sauces and soups.

Health and Safety

The British Leek Growers Association supports the guidelines given by the Food Standards Agency to consumers on how to safely prepare raw foods, these include:

• Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet, after handling raw meat or raw vegetables, before meals and after contact with animals

• Ensure that refrigerators are working correctly - bacteria grow more quickly at temperatures over 4°C

• Store uncooked meats below cooked meats and salad vegetables to avoid dripping meat juices onto ready to eat food

• Thoroughly wash all vegetables before consumption

• Thoroughly wash all knives and cooking boards after use to prevent cross contamination

For further guidance on safe food preparation visit www.fsa.gov.uk