Versatile and packed with vitamins, the leek deserves a place in our diets. A good source of fibre as well as boasting free radical-fighting antioxidants, there’s so much more to them than side dishes and soup. From keeping sore throats at bay to improving the quality of your singing voice, leeks have long been known as the fat-free, nutrient rich way to stay healthy and help combat colds. Now research shows leeks are beneficial for our gut health, too, which experts increasingly believe is crucial to our overall health.
Leeks contain a prebiotic called inulin and science shows that prebiotics could promote good sleep and reduce stress. So instead of wearing a leek to mark Wales’ national day, chop and cook one instead – your body will thank you for it!
This St David’s Day, celebrate this humble veg with a healthy noodle bowl:
Leek and tofu noodle bowl
15g dried wild mushrooms, such as porcini
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
350g firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 8 cubes
Cornflour for dusting
Olive oil or coconut oil for frying
1 litre boiling water
1 leek shredded
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 pak choi, roots trimmed, leaves separated and washed
100g shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
200g straight to the wok rice noodles
2 tbsp white miso paste
Large handful of fresh beansprouts
2 spring onions, trimmed, very thinly sliced
50g roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
Fresh coriander leaves to serve
Sliced red chilli, to serve (optional)
1 Put the dried mushrooms in a jug and cover with a little boiling water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes then drain (reserve liquid) and chop finely.
2 Combine the tamari, vinegar and mirin in a shallow bowl and stir to mix. Place the tofu in the marinade and turn to coat. Leave to absorb the flavours for about 30 mins or more.
3 Scatter the cornflour over a plate. Remove the tofu from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and roll in the cornflour to coat all sides. Heat a wide frying pan over a medium-high and add enough oil to cover the base of the pan. Fry the tofu, using tongs to turn, until dark golden and crisp all over. Drain on kitchen paper.
4 Soft boil the eggs. Heat a medium sized saucepan to a rolling boil. Use a slotted spoon to gently place the eggs in the water. Cook for 5-6 minutes and immediately transfer to a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking. Let cool until they are able to be handled and peel.
5 Place 1 litre of water in a medium saucepan with the reserved marinade and bring to the boil. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, dried mushrooms, shredded leeks, ginger, pak choi, mushrooms, and noodles and return to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 3-4 mins. Turn off the heat and stir in the miso paste, beansprouts and spring onions.
6 Halve the eggs. Divide between 4 bowls and place the tofu cubes and eggs on top. Scatter with chopped nuts and coriander leaves and a little sliced chilli, if you wish.