Last year, my friend Christine at Slow Living Essentials put us onto perennial leeks.
In garden terms, these have been life-changing. We bought seven tiny leek seedlings from Cornucopia Seeds (sadly, they don’t seem to stock them anymore!), planted them in the yard, and watched them grow. They’re smaller than regular leeks, but sweet and delicious nonetheless, and we use them right up to the green tips.
I think our leeks are a slightly different variety to Christine’s, so I decided to take some photos for you. Here’s one we pulled out last week (it reminds me of a Muppet)…
Unlike regular leeks, these grow with a bulbous base, particularly at this time of year, when they’re madly reproducing…
As we peeled back the base, we found 24 bulbils, half of which were already shooting. All of these will grow into new leeks – we simply poke a hole in the soil with a stick, drop in a bulb and water it in…
Before we had perennial leeks, we planted regular ones, which have taken a full year to get to a picking size. Here’s a comparison of the two. Remember that even though the traditional leek is larger, there are oodles more of the perennial ones in our yard, and they’re growing much faster.
After a quick phone call to our friend the Spice Girl for advice, we turned a few leeks and a couple of onions into bhajis. We mixed the sliced vegetables into a thick batter made with:
- besan (chickpea) flour
- lots of cumin
- a little turmeric
- chilli powder
- a little bicarb of soda (baking soda)
- water (added sparingly)
Heaped spoonfuls of the batter were then deepfried until golden brown. They were very moreish with a garlic and yoghurt dipping sauce…
Our perennial leeks taste just like the regular kind, but reproduce like onion weed (albeit less vigorously). They’re thriving in our small suburban backyard, and more than make up for the fact that we haven’t been able to grow onions!
Edit: According to Jerry Coleby-Williams, the variety we grow here in Australia is Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum.