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In Season: Leeks

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[Flickr: Muffet]

I fell in love with leeks last year when using them in a Tuscan bread soup. In combination with fragrant ginger, fresh tomatoes, and pane toscano, I realized the great potential of the often overlooked leek. In season October through May, this mellow vegetable reaches its peak in January. Leeks are closely related to onions, shallots, and scallions, most resembling the latter—though much larger, typically twelve inches in length and around two inches in diameter.

Leek recipes, tips, and info, after the jump.

Leeks are commonly divided by harvest seasons—summer and winter. Summer leeks are generally smaller than winter leeks, which are more strongly flavored. The most popular varieties of winter leeks are King Richard and Tadorna Blue.

When choosing leeks at the market, look for firm, straight, dark green leaves and white necks. Avoid yellowed or wilted leaves and cracked or bruised bulbs. Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator where they will keep fresh for between one or two weeks. Try wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag to help them retain moisture, or store them in the freezer for up to three months. Cooked leeks are very perishable and will only stay fresh for about two days.

Leeks are the perfect ingredient for winter soups and pastas. Check out the compilation of recipes below and take full advantage of leeks this season.

Recipes

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