This is a guest post by Melissa O’Shea aka Market Melissa

It’s already November which means Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. I never understood the logic behind using this day to gorge ourselves with lots of fatty food. Maybe it is because I am a nutritionist, but why can’t we celebrate, give thanks AND be healthy? For those of you who are with me on that, try celebrating seasonal foods with some of these nutritional powerhouses, yet sometimes forgotten veggies. Each week this month we will highlight a veggie we feel should make its way onto your dinner table, and a recipe we think we will be a homerun with your entire family.

 We often find when we’re eating something and can’t figure out why it tastes so good, there are often leeks involved. Leeks are in the allium family, related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions. They actually look like large scallions. Leeks are a good source of folate, iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. They also contain flavonoids and polyphenols, antioxidants widely shown to aid in cardiovascular support and prevent of some forms of cancer. All this for only 16 calories in ½ cup, cooked.

When shopping for leeks, look for firm and straight ones with dark green leaves and white necks. Avoid ones that are yellowed or wilted, or have bulbs that are cracked or bruised. The leaves usually have dirt in between them so be sure to wash them well before cooking or pick some up at Trader Joe’s, which are already cleaned and prepped. Leeks have a milder and sweeter flavor than onions and are perfect in soups or cooked in salads, such as the lentil salad recipe below. Leeks are available from fall to early spring, making them a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.

Warm Lentil and Leek Salad (Adapted from Vegetarian Times)


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, white and green parts thinly sliced

2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

2 tsp whole-grain mustard

1 17.6-oz pkg. cooked lentils (Trader Joe’s has a great one) or 2 cups cooked lentils

1 ½ organic red seedless grapes, halved

¼ cup chopped roasted pistachios

3 Tbsp finely chopped mint

3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

¼ cup crumbled feta (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leaks and cook until translucent, about 7-9 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in the sherry vinegar and mustard.

3. Combine the leek mixture with the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Top salad with crumbled feta cheese, if using. Enjoy!

Other recipes:
Giada’s Asparagus and leek soup

Leeks with Dijon vinaigrette
Have you cooked with leeks before? What are your favorite leek dishes you’ve made or eaten? What are your favorite fall vegetables?
For more information on market foodtraining or questions for Melissa you can email or on Twitter @MarketMelissa


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