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Leek (vegetable)

From Academic Kids

Leek
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Leeks


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Asparagales
Family:Alliaceae
Genus:Allium
Species:A. ampeloprasum

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Nutritional information for leeks.

The Leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.) J. Gay) is a vegetable belonging, with onion and garlic, to the Alliaceae, the onion family. Also in this species are two very different vegetables: The elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) grown for its bulbs, and kurrat which is grown for its leaves in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. The leek is also sometimes classified as Allium porrum (L.)

Rather than forming a tight bulb such as the onion, the leek produces a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths which are generally blanched by pushing soil around them (trenching). They are often sold as small seedlings in flats which are started early in greenhouses, to be set out as weather permits. Once established in the garden, leeks are hardy; many varieties can be left in the ground during the winter to be harvested as needed.

Leek cultivars can be subdivided in several ways, but the chiefest is "summer leeks", intended for harvest in the season when planted, and overwintering leeks, meant to be harvested in the spring of the year following planting. Summer leek types are generally smaller than overwintering types; overwintering types are generally more strongly flavored.

Cuisine

Leeks are generally considered to have a finer flavor than the common onion. They are an essential ingredient of cock-a-leekie soup and of vichyssoise. They can also be used raw in salads, doing especially well when they are the prime ingredient.

Because of their symbolism in Wales (see below) they have come to be used extensively in that country's cuisine.


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Leeks available for purchase.

History

Leeks were prized by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, who distributed the vegetable across Europe.

The leek is one of the national emblems of Wales, whose citizens wear it on St. David's Day. According to legend, Saint David ordered his Welsh soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. This story may have been made up by the English poet Michael Drayton but it is known that the leek has been a symbol of Wales for a long time; Shakespeare for example refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an "ancient tradition" in Henry V. In the play, Henry tells Fluellen he is wearing a leek "for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman".

See also

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