Baby leeks are a great source of nutrients that can help your child’s growth and development. They are rich in iron which triggers the formation of haemoglobin in your child, improves respiratory health due to the fact that leek contains volatile oils, has a well-known balsamic action on your child’s respiratory tract, boosts digestive health, and helps in the development of the nervous system and aiding the cleansing of the colon.
Leeks are also low in calories but high in nutrients, particularly magnesium and vitamins A, C, and K. They boast small amounts of fiber, copper, vitamin B6, iron, and folate.
Baby leeks do not form bulbs or produce cloves like their Allium cousins, rather they simply develop a sleek edible cylindric stem. Baby leeks more closely resemble Spring Onions AKA scallions, as they have yet to plumpen their stem or create thick green fanned foliage like mature leeks. Their snow white stalk with green tips are petite and slim; their youthful stage offers more advantageous culinary benefits such as tender, consistently moist flesh and milder sweeter flavor. Baby leeks are crisp when raw, developing a melting quality when cooked. Baby leeks are entirely edible, including the roots.
Baby leeks are available year-round.
Baby leeks, botanical name Allium ampeloprasum, belong to the to family Amaryllidaceae along with garlic and onions. There are dozens of Leek cultivars which are categorized as either early maturing summer leeks, which are harvested the season they are planted or winter leeks which are harvested the spring following the year they were planted. Baby leeks are best suited to summer leek varieties that have not reached maturity, plucked from the soil for culinary preference or to cull the plants and make room for crop growth. Common Baby leeks cultivars include Varna, King Richard and Pancho.
Baby leeks are mild enough to eat raw, well textured enough for withstanding long cooking periods. They are perfect for classic recipes such as pot pies, leek tarts and hearty soups. Baby leeks are a great salad or pizza ingredient, can be carmelized when sautéed with olive oil or butter and added to potato dishes and pastas. Grilling leeks imparts rich smokiness. Baby leeks should be blanched prior to grilling, so they retain their coloring and don’t over burn. Baby leeks pair well with cream sauces such as béchamel, cheeses, especially goat, cheddar and aged sheep’s cheese, bread crumbs, poultry, grilled and smoked white fish, apples, fennel, garlic, mustard, cooked eggs, tomatoes and vinaigrettes.
Leeks are native to eastern Mediterranean lands from Israel to India. They are very hardy plants that can withstand and survive cool, even cold climates throughout the Northern hemisphere. They grow best during temperatures ranging from 55°F to 75°F.