The leek is a winter vegetable that is not used much in America, but is native to Europe and the British Isles. This mild onion never forms a bulb but instead becomes a super-sized version of a green onion.
Like onions in general, leeks are started in early spring, then set out in the garden. They are sometimes planted in the bottom of a shallow trench. As the plants grow, the soil is raked around them in order to blanch the lower part of the stems. Leeks mature late and are harvested in October or November.
Cooks use all of the blanched part of the leek and about two inches of the green portion. The top of the leek does not make good eating. Leeks can be sliced thin and served in salad, boiled, or sauteed in butter.
Some soup recipes make use of the leek, and it goes well with lamb. The people of Wales have adopted the leek as part of their folklore. In the era of King Arthur,  the Welsh faced a battle with the Saxons. They prayed to their patron saint, St. David, and his spirit urged them to have each soldier wear a leek on his cap. The Welshmen by sight and smell could easily tell who was on their side, but the Saxons had no identifying mark and wasted much effort fighting members of their own army. Wales won the battle, and ever since Welshmen have honored the leek on St. David’s Day (March 1).

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