Notice: Undefined index: HTTP_ACCEPT in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 44

Notice: Undefined index: HTTP_ACCEPT in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 44

Sunday, May 01st

Last update:15 Apr 6:42 GMT

You are here: News News Leek season runs through the New Year

Leek season runs through the New Year


leeksAs we head into colder months, the Leek Grower's Association is urging people not to forget the benefits of the British leek as the fat-free, nutrient rich answer to staying healthy and helping combat colds this winter.


From keeping sore throats at bay to improving the quality of the singing voice, this 'upmarket onion' or 'poor man's asparagus' is a must-have on shopping lists across the country as the British leek season kicks off from 1 November and runs through to April.


More refined, subtle and sweet than the average onion and packed with anti-oxidants, the leek has long been treasured in Europe and the Mediterranean where it has been grown and cooked for more than 3,000 years. Rich in iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C and folate it is used in traditional medicines to treat a variety of ailments including the common cold, gout, 'bad' cholesterol, kidney stones as well as protecting against cancer.


Whether you like them roasted, baked, braised or boiled, leeks are easier to digest than onions, have laxative, antiseptic, diruetic and anti-arthritic properties. Just half a cup of leeks counts as one serving so check out the British leek website for mouth-watering, seasonal recipes, developed for The Leek Grower's Association by leading UK chef and food consultant, Rob Rees, MBE. Or, try out his Open Tart of Leeks, Stilton and Chesnuts recipe overleaf.


Comments Rob, "The aromatic smell and subtle flavour of leeks is a great combination. The Great British Menu embraces seasonality as its core and what better way to manage Autumn into Winter than with this fantastic vegetable".


Did you know?

  • The French call the leek, 'poireau' which also means 'simpleton' in Europe.
  • Agatha Christie named one of her most famous characters, the French detective Poirot, after the leek.
  • The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, credited the clear voice of the partridge to a diet of leeks.


  • It is widely reported the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 AD) ate leeks in quantity, cooked in oil, to improve his singing voice. He became known as Porophagus or 'leek eater'.
  • Even the bible mentions leeks. The Israelites lamented the loss of one of their favourite foods as they searched for the Promised Land.
  • St David, the Patron Saint of Wales, ordered his soldiers to wear leeks on their helmets in battle to differentiate themselves from the invading enemy, the Saxons.
  • The leek is widely recognised as the national symbol of Wales.
  • In Elizabethan times, Shakespeare refers to the custom of wearing a leek as 'an ancient tradition'. Henry V tells Fluellen he is wearing a leek "for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman."
  • In traditional medicine, the leek is highly regarded as a cure for the common cold, alleviating the pains of childbirth and a tasty, healthy ingredient in cawl, the traditional Welsh broth.
  • A means of foretelling the future and keeping away evil spirits, the leek was also placed under a pillow at night so young maidens could see the features of their future husbands.

Cassoulet with Leeks, Chorizo and Winter Herbs Ingredients:

Serves 4


350g soaked or Tinned Cannelini Beans ( cooked)

3 Leeks – trimmed, diced, washed

1 Crushed Garlic Glove

½ Red Onion Finely Chopped

2 Sprigs of Rosemary

5 Leaves of Sage - roughly chopped

500g Piece of Chorizo - cut into slices ½ inch thick

100ml Passatta

250g Bread Crumbs

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 l Vegetable Stock

30g Finely Chopped English Parsley

2 Twists Milled Pepper

50g Grated Cheddar Cheese


Add the Olive Oil to a thick bottomed sauce pan. On a monderate heat sweat the garlic and onions. Add the leeks and the cooked beans.


Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chorizo, passata, rosemary, sage and stock – simmer for a further 45 minutes or unti the beans are tender. Stir in the fresh parsley and season with pepper .


Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and cheese and glaze under a grill. Serve with green salad and crusty bread.