We don’t usually think about leeks as the starting point for a salad, but for a recent class on pre and pro biotics, we chose to use leeks for this one because they are a potent pre-biotic. In other words, they are a functional food. They stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system.

The strong tasting leeks needed some balance in the salad, so we chose to add oil packed olives and the bold flavor of basil. Oil packed olives are sometimes hard to find – but you should be able to find them in a larger grocery store. Bella is the brand we use. They are cured in olive oil, so they are powerfully “olivey” tasting, dark colored and a little bitter.

We love using basil in many different dishes. The herb is a primary “go to” choice for its anti- inflammatory properties. This effect stems from eugenol, a volatile oil in basil that blocks enzymes in the body that cause swelling. Both fresh basil and basil oil have strong antibacterial capabilities as well. In fact, basil has been shown to stop the growth of many bacteria, so if you add it your salad dressing you can ensure your vegetables are safe to eat!

Leek and Olive Salad

1 TB Lemon Juice

Zest of 1 Lemon

3 TB Extra Virgin Olive oil

1 Tsp Dijon Mustard

½ Tsp each Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1/2 Cup Oil Packed Black Olives, pitted and chopped

1 Large Carrot, Grated

1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, Quartered

¼ Cup Chopped Basil

Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, Dijon and oil with tge salt and pepper. Toss with the leeks, olives, carrots and tomatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with the basil and serve.

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