That's the vegetable with a double E.- obviously!
If I had a small garden with only space for a few winter veg I would definitely grow leeks. They are one of the most useful things we grow.
The price varies in the supermarket depending on the weather but they are not as cheap as some of the other winter staples like carrots and parsnips so I would choose space for leeks every time.
We sow in pots and outside. Then they are transplanted into holes dibbled with something like a pointed broom handle. Water them in rather than filling the hole with soil. You can earth them up to make them whiter but in our heavy soil we don't do this in case they rot. Instead we have shorter white bits but the green bit is edible too so it doesn't matter.
We never eat them just plain boiled when they can turn into a limp mess.
Here are some of our favourite ways of using leeks
As the base for a vegetable curry - chop leeks,onion, an apple. Melt butter in a pan and stir the veg in cook 'til soft. Stir in tablespoon flour and dessert-spoon( or more) of curry powder. Cook for a few minutes then mix in half pint hot stock. Then you can add some softer veg, or cooked potato or dried fruit, a spoonful of chutney, some pepper. Add extra stock or hot water as it cooks.
Leek and Potato soup. The are hundreds of recipes for this everywhere, so I won't put one here.
Leek Fritters - slice a couple of leeks length ways and then into thin slices. Soften in a little butter in the microwave. Leave to cool, mix in 3oz plain flour, 1 beaten egg and enough milk to make a thick batter. Then add plenty of black pepper. . Heat some oil in a frying pan and put in large spoonful of mixture and flatten, cook 'til golden and turn over to cook the other side, Drain on kitchen paper -towels. Lovely with bacon or ham.
Leeks Braised with Thyme. - Soften some butter in the microwave, with a tablespoon of chopped thyme and stir in leeks that have been trimmed and cut into thick slices. Tip into a roasting tin so they are in one layer. Pour over ½ pint hot vegetable stock. Dampen a large piece of greaseproof paper and scrunch it up then lay over the top of the leeks. Cook in a fairly hot oven for 30mins. Remove the paper and pop back in oven for 10 minutes until the edges of the leeks are browned a bit.
Leek and Ham Bake - Cut some leeks into thick slices and cook in water until they have just softened a bit. Drain really well and tip into an oven proof dish. Mix in some pieces of ham. Pour over a thick white sauce. Sprinkle plenty of grated cheese and dried breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Leek, potato, mushroom and Stilton bake - Much the same as above but cut potatoes into thick slices and boil with leeks sliced to same size until starting to soften. Add the sliced mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Drain really well. Tip into oven proof dish and cover with a thick white sauce that has had a couple of ounces of Stilton crumbled in. Scatter dried breadcrumbs over the top and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
And finally the the Pasties I made last month.