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Take a Leek this St David's Day

22nd February 2017

Take a Leek this St David's Day

1stMarch 2016

1st March 2016 is St David's Day, the patron saint of Wales and there's no better time to celebrate Wales' most famous (and in-season) food, the humble leek.

While many people wear a leek to mark Wales' national day, you may prefer to chop and cook your leeks instead. If that's the case then try the delicious contemporary and traditional Welsh-themed recipes that have been created for the British Leek Growers Association including:-

  • Leek Braised Mutton with Creamy Leek and Mint Sauce

  • Lamb and Leek Thai Red Curry

  • One-Pot Oven Baked Lamb and Leek Risotto

  • Chicken, Leek, Prune and Caerphilly Pie

  • Hearty Leek and Lamb Cobbler

  • Welsh Leek and Goat's Cheese Rarebit 

All these recipes plus high-res photography are available to download straight from our online press centre

Leeks have been associated with Wales for many hundreds of years. Legend has it that in 640AD, the Briton King Cadwallader and his men were engaged in battle with invading Saxons. To distinguish themselves from the enemy, the Welsh wore leeks in their hats - and subsequently gained a great victory over their opponents.

The leek is also associated with the Welsh Saint David. During the Middle Ages when Saint David was alive the leek was seen as a healthy and virtuous plant. Extraordinary qualities were claimed for it. It was the original health food, high in fibre, good for purging the blood, keeping colds at bay and healing wounds.

During this period the leek also acquired mystic virtues. It was claimed that girls who slept with a leek under their pillow on St David's Day would see their future husband in their dreams.

The leek is worn in the caps of today's Welsh soldiers every year on St David's Day. On the same day, in the prestigious Welsh Guards Regiment, a large raw leek has to be eaten by the youngest recruits. The green and white plume worn in the ‘Bearskin' hats of the Guards also identifies them as belonging to a Welsh Regiment. According to tradition, the 600 soldiers of The Royal Welsh regiment drink ‘gunfire' - tea laced with rum - served by senior ranks and officers on St David's Day.

Leeks are fabulously versatile and can be enjoyed in all sorts of ways including sautéing, stir-frying, baking, roasting, braising and even adding raw to salads. Simply boiling leeks will turn the veg soft with a mild taste, while frying gives crunchy leeks with a stronger flavour.

Perhaps the most traditional use of leeks is Welsh cawl, a stew-like dish consisting of meat and vegetables that has been enjoyed by the nation since the 14th century. Its ingredients tend to vary, but usually include lamb and leeks.

Because of their important symbolism in Wales, leeks have come to be used extensively in the country's cuisine, while in the rest of the UK, have only become popular again in the last fifty years or so, having been overlooked for several centuries.

So given that we've got a few hundred years of missing out on leeks to catch up on, start as you mean to go on by enjoying lovely leeks this St David's Day.

The full British Leeks press pack including much more St David's Day information can be downloaded at



Notes to the editor

High resolution recipe photography available to download by contacting

For further press information or to speak to a leek farmer, please contact:

Carole Pendle

Pendle PR

On behalf of the British Leek Growers Association

Tel: 0560 2759478 / Mobile: 07768 462601

St David's Day Recipes from the British Leek Growers Association

Leek Braised Mutton with Creamy Leek and Mint Sauce

With mutton currently experiencing a well-deserved revival, this is a great recipe to serve as an alternative Christmas dish, a hearty winter warmer or to celebrate St. David's Day. Gentle braising with leeks, aromatic cinnamon, cloves and orange gives full flavoured tender meat and the juices are used in the accompanying leek sauce.


Serves 8

Prep 30 minutes

Cook 4 hours

2 leeks, trimmed and cut into 4 rounds

1 orange, quartered

2 sprigs rosemary

1 cinnamon stick

1 carrot, halved

Sprinkling sea salt and ground black pepper


300ml / 1/2pt braising juices, skimmed of fat

1ltr / 1 1/4 pt full cream milk

75g / 3oz butter

75g / 3oz plain flour

8 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Sprinkling sea salt and ground black pepper

6 leeks, trimmed, washed and cut into 2cm/ 3/4" rounds

Make 20 regularly spaced small slits in the skin of the mutton and insert cloves. Weigh joint and calculate cooking time at 90 minutes per kilo. Place mutton in a deep roasting pan.


Surround the joint with all the braising ingredients and pour boiling water to come half way up the side of the meat. Tuck a piece of wetted baking parchment over the meat and braising ingredients and cover with foil. Oven braise, adding more water if required.


Once cooked remove from the oven and save 300ml/ ½pt of the juices for the sauce skimming off fat before measuring the liquid. Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes before carving into thin slices.


Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Simmer the prepared leeks for 3 - 4 minutes until just tender. Drain. Melt the butter and stir in the flour. Gradually add the reserved braising juices and milk stirring continuously over a gentle heat until the sauce is simmering. Season and add the mint and leeks.


Pour the sauce over the carved mutton slices and accompany with crispy roast potatoes, carrots and braised red cabbage.


Lamb and Leek Thai Red Curry

Serves 4

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 55 minutes


Curry Paste


2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed and chopped

1 fresh red chilli, finely diced and deseeded

2 cloves of garlic

2 jarred red peppers in oil

1 heaped tsp tomato puree

Juice of 2 limes

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp paprika

2tbsp soy sauce

1tsp sesame oil

2cm (¾in) piece of fresh ginger

1 tablespoon caster sugar


Little olive oil, for frying

500g lamb leg steaks, chopped into chunks

1 x 400g tin of coconut milk

500g baby new potatoes, halved

150g leek, washed and finely sliced, tough outer leaves removed

50g, mangetout, halved

1 red pepper, finely sliced

1 lime, to serve

A handful of fresh coriander



For the curry paste put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend to a paste. Once a fragrant curry paste is formed, reserve.

Drizzle some olive oil into the hot frying pan and add the lamb and fry until golden on the outside, then add the curry paste and fry for 1 more minute.

Pour the coconut milk in and turn the heat down to a simmer and put the lid on the pan slightly ajar and cook for 20 minutes, then add the potatoes. After another 30 minutes put the leeks, mangetout and peppers in and cook for a further 5 minutes.


To serve - garnish with a wedge of lime and some freshly chopped coriander

One-Pot Oven Baked lamb and leek risotto


This is dish is so easy to make that even if we had the hordes of the un-dead banging at the windows, we'd still have time to make something gorgeous and sit down to a meal before picking up our machetes! Not officially a risotto, yet it still does everything a risotto does and has all the ingredients to produce a stunning comfort meal.


Serves 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hr 15 minutes


  • 450g diced Welsh lamb - try and get it with some decent marbling

  • 1 medium onion - chopped

  • 5 garlic cloves - unpeeled

  • 2 medium leeks - chopped

  • a handful of carrots - roughly chopped

  • 1 litre good quality lamb or vegetable stock

  • 1 glass white wine

  • 200g Arborio risotto rice - you may want to increase or decrease this weight depending on the size of your dish

  • Fresh herbs to taste

  • Salt and pepper


Pre-heat a large, heavy bottomed pan and using a little olive oil brown the lamb all over and then set aside.


Place all the vegetables and seasoning in a large oven-proof dish, drizzle well with olive oil. Lay the lamb pieces on top, cover with foil and bake in the oven on 180C (160C fan) for 30 mins.


Take it out of the oven, take off the foil and pop it back into the oven for 10 minutes for everything to brown a little. Then take it out once more and stir it all together, add the rice, two thirds of the stock and the white wine. Stir together, cover with the foil and pop it back into the oven for another 30-40 mins until the rice is cooked.


Take it out of the oven, remove the foil, stir well - you may need to add a little more stock at this stage or it may be perfect. Pop it back in the oven for about 5 mins more without the foil, just to add a little more colour. Then remove and let it settle for a few mins before serving as it will be piping hot.


Chicken, Leek, Prune & Caerphilly Pie


Serves 4

Prep 25 minutes

Cook 40 minutes



1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 Spanish onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic sliced

4 boned chicken thighs cubed

200g leeks sliced, white parts only

2tbls flour

150ml dry white wine

1pint chicken stock

200ml double cream

2 tsp English mustard

Salt and black pepper to taste

100g prunes halved

150g Caerphilly cheese crumbled

50g mixed chopped tarragon and flat leaf parsley


500g ready rolled puff pastry

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon of double cream



  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF

  2. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter and oil then fry the onions and garlic until they start to colour, about 10 minutes

  3. Then add the chicken and cook for a further 5 minutes until the chicken is sealed

  4. Add the leeks and flour stirring continually until they are well combined

  5. Add the wine and chicken stock slowly until the sauce has thickened

  6. Add the cream and mustard and then season

  7. Take off the heat and stir in the prunes, cheese and herbs

  8. Place the pie filling into a medium sized pie dish

  9. Mix the egg yolk and cream together and then brush around the pie dish. Cover with pastry and cut around the sides with a knife

  10. Brush the remaining egg mix over the pie

  11. Poke a couple of small holes in the pastry to let out the steam

  12. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and serve



Hearty leek & lamb cobbler


Serves 4

Ready in about 3 hours

Costs £1.21 per serving


450g/1lb stewing lamb such as shoulder, cubed (or use pork shoulder or braising beef)

2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

150ml/¼ pint brown ale

4 medium leeks, trimmed then cut into thumb lengths

1 stick celery, sliced

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks

400g/14oz swede or turnip, peeled and cut into big chunks

a few sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

1 or 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried is fine

500ml/18fl oz lamb or beef stock

For the cobbler topping

250g/9oz self-raising flour

80g/3oz cold butter, cut into cubes

125ml/4fl oz semi-skimmed milk

2 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)

1 egg, beaten


1 Heat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Toss the lamb with the seasoned flour. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium casserole, then fry the meat for 10 minutes, until dark golden brown all over. Transfer to a bowl. Splash in the ale and bring to a boil, scraping up all of the tasty brown bits from the bottom. Tip this over the meat then wipe the pan with kitchen paper.

2 Heat 1 tbsp oil then gently fry the vegetables with the thyme and bay for 10-15 minutes until turning golden here and there. Return the lamb and juices to the pan, top up with the stock, then season. Cover the casserole with a lid, leaving just a small gap to one side, then cook in the oven for 21/2 hours.

3 With 40 minutes to go, make the topping. Add ½ tsp salt to the flour in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Combine the milk, mustard, thyme and half of the egg, then tip into the bowl and bring to a soft dough. Knead a few times on a floured surface till just smooth, then pat the dough to about 3cm/1in thick and stamp into rounds. Squash together any trimmings and repeat. Don't overwork the dough as it will make it tough.

4 Uncover the meat, stir gently and taste the sauce for seasoning at this point. Place the cobbler pieces on top, brush them with the remaining egg, then return to the oven until the topping is golden and lamb tender. Let the cobbler settle for 10 minutes before serving with your favourite seasonal greens.


Welsh Leek and Goat's Cheese Rarebit


A variation on the classic recipe brings this traditional favourite bang up to date. Welsh goats' cheese comes in a variety of guises. Choose a mild, creamy one without a crust so it will easily melt into the sauce. Alternatively use Y Fenni cheese which contains mustard seed and ale.


Makes : 4 servings

Preparation Time : 20 minutes

Cooking Time : 10 minutes

Oven Temperature : Medium hot grill




1 Ciabatta loaf

2 Medium leeks, trimmed, washed and finely shredded

50g/2oz Butter

25g/1oz Plain flour

1 x5ml tsp Mustard powder

150ml/¼ pt Milk

110g / 4oz Creamy Welsh goats' cheese

Light sprinkling Sea salt and ground black pepper




1. Cut Ciabatta loaf into 2cm/ ¾" thick slices. Place in a hot oven for 5 - 8 minutes to crisp and lightly brown. Rest on a cooling rack to keep crisp whilst preparing the rarebit.

2. Melt the butter in a medium size pan and gently sweat the leeks for 2 -3 minutes to soften but not brown. Stir in the flour and mustard powder. Gradually stir in the milk and bring to simmering point to make a thick sauce.

3. Stir in the goats' cheese until melted. Season well.

4. Generously spoon rarebit onto the toasted Ciabatta. Brown under the grill until bubbling and serve immediately.