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This week how to incorporate more leeks into your culinary repertoire.

Leeks are related to onions and garlic, however with leeks it is the leaves and stems that are edible. The flavour of leeks can vary from slightly sweet and subtle to strong and more intense depending on their size and how they are grown.

Leeks have been grown for thousands of years and they are suited to colder climates. In Wales, leeks are the national emblem. In fact, Welsh soldiers used to put leeks in their caps to distinguish themselves from the Anglo-Saxons in battle!

Leeks are a great source of vitamins A, B6 and C, so they may have a role in supporting a healthy immune system. They are also an excellent source of prebiotic fibre, which means they may support the growth of a healthy gut microbiota (the populations of bacteria that live within all of us).

Leeks can be used in many different ways. A warming leek and potato soup is perfect for this time of year. Sliced leeks can lend a strong flavour to salads, and can be added to stews, pies, omelettes, sauces, lasagne and soups. In fact, you can use them wherever you would normally use onions and they will give a more intense flavour to the dish. Recently I added sautéed leeks to my fish mix before making fish cakes and it gave them a greater depth of flavour.

As well as using them in dishes where they may not be distinguished so clearly, like a soup, leeks can also be made into a dish of their own. Sliced leeks can be delicious when roasted with a little olive oil. I also like to make a ratatouille-style dish by sautéing sliced leeks with garlic and then simmering in passata until the leeks are softened.

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