cannot be ensured. Gather only as many leeks as you can use in a few
days. There is no reason to discard the leaves. They are as flavorful as
the bulbs. Wild leeks grow in tangled clumps. Don’t collect all your wild
leeks from one of them. Instead, disperse your harvest throughout the
patch and leave about one-third of the plants in any one clump.
Some wild-food authors suggest leaving the fibrous root crown in
the ground to begin new growth the next season. This takes time and a
bit of practice. The soil in the clump must be lifted and loosened. Then,
a sharp knife can be used to cut the bulbs from the root, or a finger
can be worked down around the bulb to snap it from the root crown.
If you can find them, wild leeks can be harvested all year. Though
flavor does decline later in the season, bulbs are bigger, so fewer
need to be harvested for a meal. Also, the seeds can be sown in the
soil that is disturbed as the bulbs are collected.
The reputation of wild leeks among gourmets is well deserved. Wild leeks
are both richer in taste than onion and milder than garlic. I prefer simple
meals that allow me to savor their flavor. For example, I like to sauté them in
butter and serve them with eggs or in soup.
Wild leek patches are magical places in spring, and one of my favorite
Wild Leek Omelet
12 wild leeks
2 Tbs butter
¼ cup of hard, sharp cheese like Parmesan or Gruyère (optional) Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Thoroughly clean the wild leeks. (The bulbs are covered with a sheath-like membrane that can be removed during cleaning.) Finely chop the leaves and bulbs of the wild leeks, discarding the root crown. Sauté the wild leeks until the chopped bulbs have softened and become translucent (about five minutes). Beat eggs separately and pour over wild leeks. Add cheese and salt to taste. Flip when edges dry. Serve hot.
memories is of seeing my children walk through my favorite patch
with looks of wonder on their faces. With careful harvesting, it is a place that
they will be able to share with their own children someday.