Happy Friday Bloggies!
Only a few more hours till the weekend kicks off – woop woop! What are your plans? I’m looking forward to a lunch date with one of my besties (restaurant review coming on Monday!), heading out for drinks with another bestie, and of course, some extra rest this weekend. I feel like a bit of a broken record but lately, by the time Friday hits, I’m completely wiped!
Today is the fourth Spotlight on Spring Produce feature, and today it’s all about leeks! I’ll move all of this series over to the Top Posts page under Nutrition pretty soon, but if you’ve missed the previous posts, check out asparagus and peas here, fennel here, and artichokes here.)
First things first: What’s a leek?
Leeks belong to the same family as onions and garlic, but with 90% water content, they’re less dense and are easier to digest. The tasty bits are the white and light green parts, but the dark green parts at the end are packed with nutrition. Leeks aren’t as strong tasting as onions, and even better, they won’t make you tear up when you slice them!
What nutritional goodies does a leek have to offer?
Lots! Apart from being very high in fiber, leeks also contain minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. Vitamin-wise, there’s A, C, K, a little bit of the B’s, and folic acid.
What sort of health problems can leeks help to cure?
Leeks have been used in many countries to improve human health. For example, the iron in leeks can help to combat anemia, and the vitamin C helps our bodies to absorb the iron as effectively as possible. Leeks also have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, so the juice has been used to improve our immune systems, treat arthritis, and prevent/fight cancer. Finally, the minerals found in leeks make them effective in helping to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk about multitasking, hey?
OK, so how do you cook with leeks?
Well, let me just start by saying that it’s been a big week for chicken in this house… and a big week for mushrooms too now that I think about it. (Sorry to the veggies and vegans… I promise some recipes sans-meat next week!) Leeks can be eaten raw, but their taste mellows out when they’re cooked – just like onions and garlic. The following dinner may look very similar to my Recipe of the Week, but the taste is quite different and the leeks are absolutely delicious. Nom nom noms.
Chicken with Mushrooms and Braised Leeks
- 2 leeks
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 130g each
- sea salt and black pepper
- 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut the darkest parts off of the leeks, and slice the remaining light green and white parts lengthwise. Wash them to remove any dirt, then place them in a baking dish. Evenly distribute the minced garlic over top. Crumble the rosemary over the leeks, then bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove any visible fat from the chicken breasts and sprinkle them with sea salt and black pepper. Spray a frying pan with olive oil and sear each chicken breast on each side until the outside is lightly browned. Remove the chicken from the pan, but don’t clean it yet. Add the sliced mushrooms and sautee in a splash of broth and black pepper until slightly softened.
After the leeks have baked for 20 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven. Add the chicken and mushrooms to the dish, and let the chicken sit in the broth at the bottom.
Return it to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Nutrition per serving: 278 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated), 75mg cholesterol, 143mg sodium, 18g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 36g protein.
Alternatively, you could make this as a side dish without the chicken. I had a bit left over and happily ate it for lunch the next day with some leftover rice – ’twas lovely!
Alright, that’s all for me today! Before you head off, I want to know…
- What’s your favourite way to cook with leeks? I loved the dinner above, but I also really enjoyed this Mushroom and Leek Fritatta. Mushrooms and leeks were meant to be together if you ask me.
- Do you have plans to cook up anything tasty this weekend?