Here is a simple, flavorful risotto using fresh basil, leeks and Asiago cheese. This makes a wonderful side dish to any meal.
Basil, Leek & Asiago Cheese Risotto
1 + 1 tbsp. Butter
1 c. Arborio Rice
1/4 c. Leeks, chopped
2 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
3 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 c. Water
1/2 c. Asiago Cheese, shredded
Melt butter in a large, nonstick frying pan and add add the rice, leeks, basil and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until the liquid has evaporated. Add the remaining liquid one cup at a time, first the chicken broth and then the water, and simmer until that liquid has evaporated. On the last 1/2 cup of water, add in the cheese and remaining 1 tbsp. butter. Stir until well
blended and the butter has melted. Serves 6.
Leeks have many health benefits too! Here is some information about leeks you may not have known from Nutrition and You.
Health benefits of Leeks
- Leeks contain many noteworthy flavonoid anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits.
- Leeks are low in calories. 100 g fresh stalks contain 61 calories. Further, their elongated stalks provide good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Though leeks contain proportionately less thio-sulfinites than that in garlic, they still possess significant amounts of these anti-oxidants such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide. These compounds convert to allicin by enzymatic reaction when the stalk disturbed (crushing, cutting etc).
- Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductaseenzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities.
- Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels which, helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
- Leeks are great source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Their leafy stems indeed contain several vital vitamins such as pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in healthy proportions. 100 g fresh stalks provide 64 µg of folates. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Their adequate levels in the diet during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
- In addition, leeks are one of the good source of vitamin A (1667 IU or 55% of RDA per 100 g) and other flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, xanthin, and lutein. They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin C, K, and vitamin E. Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- Further, its stalks have small amounts of minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium.
Selection and storage
Leeks are at their best during spring season. However, they can be available fresh year around in some super markets. While buying, choose fresh organic leeks, as they are rich in flavor and in nutrition. Look for uniform, long, firm, white stalks with healthy root bulb as it signals of fresh farm produce.
Avoid stems with withered, yellow discolor tops.
Once at home, wrap in paper towel and place inside the refrigerator. They keep well for up to a week to 10 days.
Preparation and serving methods
Leeks impart a mellow, sweet oniony flavor to the dishes they added to. They give less pungency than garlic or onions. Although used sparingly outside the European continent, their delicate stems have recently found favor among oriental, and Mediterranean recipes.The outer layers generally peeled by hand. You may want to cut them into rings, slice lengthwise or in squares using knife depending up on recipes.
To prepare, remove the thick green tops. Similarly, cut away lower root end. Swish in a large bowl of water to shake out all grit, sand, and soil. Transfer to a colander to drain. Mop dry using paper towel.