Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Leeks

Up until six or seven years ago, leeks were a mystery to me.  Then, one day, I was out to lunch at a French restaurant and was convinced to try their signature dish, fish smothered in leek sauce.   I was a little skeptical at first, but then I realized the taste of the leek sauce wasn’t entirely unfamiliar – it tasted like a milder version of a sauce made with onions.  My untrained palate was pretty much on the mark, as leeks are actually close cousins of onions (and garlic).  Although they are slightly sweeter and have a milder flavor than onions, the two can be used interchangeably in a number of dishes.  Nutritionally, leeks are a good source of Vitamin C, folate, and iron, and an excellent source of Vitamins A and K.  Leeks are tasty both raw and cooked; no matter how you prepare them, however, be sure to discard the green tops, as those are not edible.

Cauliflower-Leek Puree

2 heads cauliflower (about 3 ½ pounds), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup skim or 1% milk
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)
1 teaspoon butter or vegetable oil spread
⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley



  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cauliflower until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leek is translucent and very soft, about 8 minutes.
  3. Using a food processor and working in batches, puree the cauliflower and the leek mixture with the milk.
  4. In a small skillet, melt the butter or vegetable oil spread over medium heat. Add the panko and toast, tossing, until golden.
  5. Top the puree with the toasted panko and the parsley.


Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, November 2010 

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