Once again, thanks to the power of the internet, I randomly came across British Leeks’ mission of trying to get more people cooking and eating leeks.
At their best from November to April, these winter veggies are in season right now and can be used in a whole host of ways, kept fairly crunchy or cooked right down. A good choice during the ‘vegetable shortage’ the shops are claiming is upon. If you can, remember to buy local and seasonal, and you’ll find plenty of veg in abundance.
They have quite a host of inspiring recipes on their website including Leek and Butterbean Soup, Pan Roasted Chicken with Leeks, Cider and Chorizo and even Hot Smoked Salmon and Leek Chowder to name just a few.
I eventually settled on one of my favouritre meals – Beef Wellington. Yes it’s not strictly a fully fledged leek-based recipe, but instead of the usual mushroom duxelle or pâté coating, it contains leeks and horseradish which sounded great. So the lovely people at British Leeks kindly sent me some goodies to knock up a fabulous meal for myself and some guests! I am generally more of a freestyle cook, so it was good to have some inspiration, and I usually have wellington made for me so for once I was going to make it; to add to my pressure, I was cooking this straight after work on a Friday evening and for some foodie guests.
Here’s the recipe, with my some of my own tips below it:
Individual Beef Wellington with Leek Mousseline
Prime fillet of beef topped with a leek and horseradish mousseline, wrapped in Parma ham and puff pastry. This is a special occasion dish and an ideal choice for the festive table.
Serves 4 – Prep 30 minutes – Cook 15 – 20 mins – Oven Temp 220ºC / Gas Mark 7
500g Leeks, finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
4x 15ml tbsp Water
2 x 15ml tbsp Creamed horseradish
Generous pinch Ground black pepper
4 Slices Parma ham
500g Tail end fillet of beef
500g Puff pastry
1 Egg for glazing
Gently sweat the shredded leek and bay leaf in the butter for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the water, cover and cook gently for a further 2 — 3 minutes. Stir in the horseradish and pepper and whiz in a processor until smooth. Set aside until cold.
Divide beef fillet into 4 even pieces. Spread the cooled leek mixture onto the Parma ham slices and wrap one around each beef fillet.
Divide pastry into four. Roll each out into an oblong about 2 times the size of the beef fillet. Brush with egg glaze and bring pastry up over the beef and seal neatly into a parcel. Place sealed side downwards onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Chill for 30 minutes. Cook 15 – 20 mins – Oven Temp 220ºC / Gas Mark 7
It is a fairly simple yet indulgent meal to make actually, and whilst the leeks are sweating down you can cut your beef, sear it, and roll your pastry out (searing seals in the juices). To speed up the cooling of the leek mixture, I popped it into the freezer for 10 minutes or so. Make sure your pastry isn’t too warm as when you are sealing up the wellington, it can ‘melt’ and slide off a bit. If this happens to you, cut a slither of the pastry from the edges and use as a glue/join on top. I also laid the parma ham and leek mixture onto the pastry then folded over the meat.
It was absolutely delicious and I was so pleased! Definitely give it a go for a Valentine’s meal this February, or for a treat with friends. You could prepare this the day before, and keep it in the fridge ready to cook; just bring it out to room temperature before cooking in the oven. I managed to make it within an hour of getting home and guests arriving.
The leeks and the horsereadish gave a lovely sweet and tangy flvour together. I loved it and I don’t eat horseradish (apparently I do now)!
British Leeks – Healthy Facts
The Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptions valued leeks for their therapeutic properties and Roman Emperor Nero ate large quantities to improve his voice. From soothing sore throats to helping keep gout and kidney stones at bay, leeks are packed full of health benefits and are commonly used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Easier to digest than onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic and anti-arthritic properties. And, if eaten regularly, here are some of the ways leeks can help you to stay healthy:
Efficient functioning of the kidneys
Containing the equivalent of one eighth of an adult’s daily potassium requirement, leeks encourage the efficient functioning of kidneys and are effective as a diuretic.
Leeks for a healthy heart
Eating lots of leeks has been shown to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol – and at the same time increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. This is important for preventing the build up of blood vessel plaques that are found in some types of heart disease. If the plaques grow too large or rupture, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Allium vegetables including leeks can also help to lower high blood pressure – another factor that can contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
Leeks for combating cancer
Research has shown that eating leeks regularly can help protect against cancer, particularly, prostate, colon and stomach cancer. Quercetin, an antioxidant present in the Allium family, is recognised as a cancer-blocking compound.
Leeks for stabilising blood sugar
Leeks are a very good source of manganese and vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and iron. These nutrients all work together in the body to stabilise blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of sugars from the intestinal tract.
Leeks for expectant mothers
Leeks are a good source of the B vitamin folate, containing between 15% and 49% of the RNI for an adult. Folate is important for pregnant women as it can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida. One portion of cooked leeks contains almost a third of an adult’s recommended daily intake.
Leeks for a healthy diet
Leeks are a great choice for those following a healthy diet as they are very low in calories and packed full of vitamins and minerals.
An average serving of leeks (80g or 1 leek) contains:
- 17 calories
- 1g protein
- 0.6g fat
- 2.1g carbohydrate
- 1.4g fibre
Leeks are also a good source of Iron, Vitamin C and Folate.
Get cooking, in season and it’s good for you!