Happy St David’s Day to all our Welsh and non-Welsh customers. The 1st of March is the day on which St David is remembered, the Celtic monk who spread Christianity during the 6th century and was adopted by Wales as its patron saint. On this day many Welsh people will be both wearing and eating leeks, but why?
Along with the daffodil, the leek is the national emblem of Wales and is closely linked to St David. We are told that St David instructed Welsh soldiers going into battle against the Saxons to wear a leek in their helmets. The thinking being that they could then easily be distinguished as friends rather than foe. The battle was won and the leek was celebrated for having played its part in the success. Hence the tradition of Welsh soldiers wearing a leek into battle was born.
To this day the Royal Welsh Fusiliers have a tradition of eating raw leeks on 1st March each year. This honour goes to the youngest member of the regiment who has to eat a raw leek whilst the regimental mascot, a goat, is paraded.
If you don’t fancy your leeks raw then thankfully there are a great many ways that they can be cooked. Leeks are wonderful sliced and steamed, braised or fried in olive oil and butter with a splash of white wine. Being milder than their onion cousins they are also great in soups, stews and casseroles. Don’t be tempted to just use the white part. The longer green section of the leek is less tender but is far more nutritious and a shame to waste.
Leeks go particularly well with eggs, chilli, cheese, lentils, peas, mint and coriander. They are easy to grow and can be left in the ground over winter giving access to fresh veg when little else is available. There is a knack to planting leeks but all is explained on our seed packets.
Sow your leeks now and you’ll be adding them to macaroni cheese, colcannon, chick pea salad and goat’s cheese tarts come late summer. But remember to leave some in the ground to enjoy on 1st March 2017, the next St David’s Day.