Leeks are a member of the same family as garlic and onion and provide an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C and folic acid.
The white base of the stem is the main edible part; the green tops can also be eaten, but take care to wash them well before cooking as soil often gets trapped between the leaves as the plant grows.
Adelaide Farmers’ Market stallholder Annemarie Brookman, of The Food Forest, grows certified organic leeks each year at her Gawler River property.
“Leeks are sweeter and milder in flavour than onions and can be picked very young as well,” she says.
“If you peel off the outside layer, the inside is yummy and tender. We eat them in curries, spaghetti bolognese and braised in butter, and they are delicious roasted whole in one piece (remove the tops). They are great in soup, too.”
Brookman says leeks are easy to grow, look fantastic in the field, are robust and are easy to harvest.
“There are many different varieties of leeks, both as hybrids and open pollinated (heirloom) varieties.
“It takes about 14 to 16 weeks from planting the seedlings to the first harvest and they can be harvested over a long period of time. They keep well in the soil and don’t have to be harvested at once, picking the biggest ones first.
“The leeks I am harvesting in August were planted in February and March. The last seedlings were planted early May for September harvest.”
You can find leeks at Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market at the Patlins Gardens, W&B Hart and Virgara’s Garden stalls, and certified organic leeks at The Food Forest stall.
The Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market will be closed this Sunday, September 4, and Sunday, September 11, due to the Royal Adelaide Show, but will re-open on Sunday, September 18, from 9am to 1pm at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville.
W&B Hart and Virgara’s Garden stalls are also at Willunga Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 8am to 12.30pm. Also open on Saturday mornings is the Gawler Farmers’ Market from 8am to noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, 2 Lyndoch Road, Gawler. The Food Forest stall attends the Gawler Farmers’ Market fortnightly selling a range of certified organic fruits, nuts, wine and vegetables, including leeks.
Lyndall Vandenberg, marketing and communications coordinator for the Willunga Farmers’ Market, has shared her recipe for mirepoix of vegetables in a white wine sauce
“Leeks are a good alternative to onions as their flavour is milder and a mirepoix is a great way to add a lot of flavour to simple, fresh food,” she says.
“I make a mirepoix of leeks, carrots and celery in white wine sauce to pour over grilled or barbecued fish or chicken, or use the unreduced sauce as a braise in which to cook shellfish.”
Mirepoix of vegetables in a white wine sauce
1 cup leeks, very finely diced
½ cup carrot, very finely diced
½ cup celery, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon thyme leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry white wine
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frypan over medium heat.
Add the vegetables and thyme, then season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are beginning to turn a golden colour.
Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the wine is reduced by half.
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