Just because the weather is turning warmer, doesn’t mean I am prepared to give up comfort foods quite yet. These days I am balancing out entree style salads with light and Spring-y pastas. Leeks are everywhere right now: fresh, delicious and gorgeously fragrant, these allium transform any dish they grace from the ordinary to the extraordinary. As such, they are a staple in French and other mediterranean cooking, forming the core of a bouquet garni to flavour sauces and stocks. Here I’ve pureed them with lemon zest and parsley along with their cooking water to form the body of the pasta sauce – keeping it light but tasty at the same time. Serve this along side a crisp, dry white wine and your winter blues will be far, far behind you.
- 6 leeks trimmed
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 6 quarts water
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. Italian parsley
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 16 oz penne
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
Bring the water to a boil and add the salt.
Split the leeks 3/4 of the way down and rinse thoroughly. Cooke the leeks for 6 – 8 mins in the water or until tender. Remove the leeks with a slotted spoon, and plunge into cold water to refresh – squeeze to remove excess water. Retain the leek cooking water.
Roughly chop leeks and then puree in a food processor with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil and 1/2 cup of the leek cooking water.
Transfer the puree to a 3 qt. pot; add another cup of the leek cooking water and simmer all to thicken to a sauce.
In another large pot bring 4 – 6 quarts of water to a boil: add penne and cook until al dente (5-7 mins). Drain the pasta and add to the leek sauce – cook another 2-4 minutes in the sauce adding more leek cooking water if it gets dry. Stir in the parmesan and season with more salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.