Leeks: Health Benefits

Leeks are part of the Allium family, which also includes garlic, onion, scallions and chives. This aromatic veggie is low in calories, about 54 calories for 1 cup of raw leeks, but packed with a subtle flavor that makes them perfect to toss into soups and salads, or sauté as a tasty side dish all on its own. Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin K and very good sources of vitamin B6, manganese, copper, iron and folate

Leeks are at their peak season from the fall through the early part of spring, but are available throughout the year. The freshest leeks have bright green tops with white necks and should be stored in the refrigerator untrimmed and unwashed. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly as they can have lots of grit. To rinse well, first cut the bottom off and trim the top where the white/light green part begins and cut them in half lengthwise. Next, peel off the tough outer layer and, as you hold a half under running water, fan the layers a bit with your fingers, especially the part that was closest to the top, to make sure all the dirt is released. You can either toss the tops or use them to make a stock along with some peppercorn and bay leaves. As with other Allium foods, let the chopped leeks sit for 5 minutes before cooking to maximize their health-promoting qualities.

Although they are less researched than garlic and onions, the limited existing research suggests an association with a decreased risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, due to their sulfer-containing stalks.

 

Cardiovascular Benefits of Leeks

Leeks also contain the flavonoid kaempferol, an antioxidant, which is believed to impart cardiovascular benefits through vasodilation and reduce oxidative stress. Additionally, the bioactive form of folate found in leeks is also cardioprotective.

 

Leeks and Cancer Prevention

As with other members of the Allium family, leeks are thought to play a role in cancer prevention. That leeks should follow in the path of their better known family members – garlic and onions – is expected considering they do contain similar sulfur compounds that are found to participate in the body’s antioxidant and detox systems, which may help prevent the cancer process from starting. Leeks also pack a good dose of both vitamins A and C – strong antioxidants themselves.

 

Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter
Serves 2
For the citrus-chive butter
  1. 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  2. Zest of 1 clementine or orange
  3. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  4. 1 pinch salt
For the roasted halibut and leeks
  1. 4 leeks, about 1 inch in diameter or less
  2. 2 portions halibut fillet, about 1/3 pound each
  3. Juice from 1 clementine
  4. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  6. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Make a compound butter by combining the butter, clementine zest, chopped chives, and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Stir the mixture with a spatula until ingredients are evenly distributed. Shape the butter into a log and chill in the fridge until firm, about half an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the leeks. Take off their roots and coarse green tops. Slice the leeks almost in two with a lengthwise cut from the top end to within two inches of the root base. Submerge the leeks in water and agitate them to remove any dirt. Simmer the leeks in a separate (large) pot of water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the leeks and finish the lengthwise cut to divide the leeks into two halves.
  3. Butter two gratin dishes or one larger casserole dish and place the leeks on the bottom. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the melted butter. Season the leeks with a couple pinches of salt. Place each halibut fillet atop it's own bed of leeks. Pour clementine juice over the halibut along with the other Tablespoon of olive oil. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the fish in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the halibut is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Remove the halibut and leeks from the oven and serve immediately with a slice of citrus-chive butter on top.
Print
Adapted from Food 52
Adapted from Food 52
Savor Health https://savorhealth.com/

Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter

Makes 2 servings

For the citrus-chive butter

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • Zest of 1 clementine or orange
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 pinch sea salt

For the roasted halibut and leeks

  • 4 leeks, about 1 inch in diameter or less
  • 2 portions halibut fillet, about 1/3 pound each
  • Juice from 1 clementine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Make a compound butter by combining the butter, clementine zest, chopped chives, and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Stir the mixture with a spatula until ingredients are evenly distributed. Shape the butter into a quenelle or a log and chill in the fridge until firm, about half an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the leeks: Take off their roots and coarse green tops. Slice the leeks almost in two with a lengthwise cut from the top end to within two inches of the root base. Submerge the leeks in water and agitate them to remove any dirt. Simmer the leeks in a separate (large) pot of water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the leeks and finish the lengthwise cut to divide the leeks into two halves.
  3. Butter two gratin dishes or one larger casserole dish and place the leeks on the bottom. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the melted butter. Season the leeks with a couple pinches of salt. Place each halibut fillet atop its own bed of leeks. Pour clementine juice over the halibut along with the other tablespoon olive oil. Season the fish with a couple pinches of salt and a bit of freshly ground white pepper.
  4. Roast the fish in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the halibut is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Remove the halibut and leeks from the oven and serve immediately with a slice of citrus-chive butter on top.

 

 
References
[i] World’s Healthiest Foods. WHFoods Recommendations. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=26. Accessed January 27, 2015.
[ii] Nicastro HL, Ross SA and Milner JA. Garlic and onions: Their cancer prevention properties. Cancer Prevention Research. 2015. [Epub ahead of print.]
[iii] Xiao HB, Fang J, Yang Lu X, Chen, XJ, Tan C, Liang Sun Z. Protective effects of kaempferol against endothelial damage by an improvement in nitric oxide production and a decrease in asymmetric dimethylarginine level. Eur J Pharmacol. 2009;616(1-3):213-222. 
[iv] Food 52. Roasted Halibut & Leeks wit Citrus-Chive Butter. http://food52.com/recipes/15725-roasted-halibut-leeks-with-citrus-chive-butter. Accessed January 27, 2015.

 

Liv Lee, MS, RDN

Liv Lee has a Masters degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.