Michelle Palmer: Meet the leek, a cousin of onion and garlic (recipe)

Michelle Palmer’s cooked leek bundle with beet vinaigrette

Michelle Palmer’s cooked leek bundle with beet vinaigrette

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Leeks are part of the onion family and are an immune builder. The leek is a vegetable, a cultivar of allium ampeloprasum, the broadleaf wild leek.
The edible part of the plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes erroneously called a stem or stalk. The genus Allium also contains the onion, garlic, shallot, scallion, chive and Chinese onion. Onions and garlic are mainstays of most kitchens, but many cooks have never touched a leek.
Leeks look like giant green onions and can stand in for onions in many dishes. Because leeks are a low-calorie food, they can be part of a weight management program.
The water and fiber in leeks can give you a feeling of fullness, so you are less likely to overeat. Leeks also add a lot of flavor to foods and make eating healthy dishes enjoyable. Originally from central Asia, it has been consumed since ancient times. It was on the menu of the Egyptians and later the Romans, pioneers of gastronomy, used it plentifully in their cuisine, especially during their great feasts.
Leeks are rich in Vitamin K, which may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Some studies show a relationship between a higher intake of Vitamin K and denser bones, which lead to a reduced risk of hip fractures. In some parts of the world, health authorities have approved the use of Vitamin K for osteoporosis.
The Food and Drug Administration has not endorsed it in the United States. Leeks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two substances that protect the eyes. These substances, known as carotenoids, reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These two eye conditions can severely impair vision and negatively impact quality of life. They are common in older people. Plants of the allium family may have a connection with a lower risk of certain cancers. Cancers of the prostate, stomach, colon, and esophagus are rarer in those who consume a lot of garlic, shallots, chives, onions, and leeks. Researchers think that the antioxidants in allium vegetables repair damaged DNA. Many studies have found evidence for a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. One analysis of 16 studies found that all vegetables in the allium family offer these health benefits.
When I was little my mom would make hot potato leek soup in the winter and potato leek soup cold in the summer aka Vichyssoise.
When I was asked to cook with Chef Gilles and Tina Galhaut of Z Bistro restaurant in France, I learned to eat leeks like a side dish as you would green beans.
This a classic leek recipe with a vinaigrette from the Chef Reine and her daughter Nadia Sammut, one of very few women ever to receive a Michelin star in France at the famous l’Auberge de La Feniere, Cadent Vaucluse

Cooked Leek Bundle with Beet Vinaigrette
Serves 4
12- ½-inch diameter X 4-inch Long leeks, rinsed
4- ¼-inch diameter X 12-inch long Green Onion
1- small beet, roasted and cooled, peeled
2 tablespoons Pomegranate molasses
¾ cup Cucuron olive oil
Fresh ground white pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
Run cold water through the leeks, Bring a pot of salted water to a small boil. Boil leeks until fork tender. Remove from pan on to paper towels. Blanch the green onions until tender, and then chill.
Arrange cooled cooked leek in groups of three. Use green onion to tie the bundles of three together.
Put beets, pomegranate molasses, Banyuls vinegar, in blender vessel. Blend until pureed. Slowly add olive oil in very small stream with motor running. Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
They can be lightly broiled or eaten room temperature after the initial boiling. Enjoy!
Michelle Palmer is owner of Absolutely Michelle’s Chef-for-Hire.

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