My first experiment is with leeks. Picture a scallion (spring onion/ green onion) that has been pumping up its muscles with illegal pharmaceuticals- that is exactly what a leek looks like, robust and hearty. They are beautiful vegetables, with a snow white root end slowly changing color to dark green at the tips. This SFGate article has great advice on growing and preparing leeks.
I googled around for a leek recipe and decided on this simple one from Marcella Hazan, shared in the Chowhound forum. This recipe belongs to a family of pasta dishes that I invariably enjoy- vegetables and garlic gently sauteed in olive oil and butter, then splashed with some cream, cheese and pasta water to make a sauce for pasta. We have discovered a particular brand of whole-grain pasta from Trader Joe's that we simply love, and I cook it quite often knowing that a simple pasta supper is giving us a good supply of protein and fiber. The recipe does call for butter, cream and cheese, but I used all these in moderate quantities where a little goes a long way.
Spaghetti in a Creamy Leek Sauce
1/2 lb whole-wheat spaghetti
4 medium leeks
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 T butter
3 T cream
3 T parmesan (or similar) cheese
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
1. Start boiling a large pot of salted water for pasta.
2. Prepare the leeks: Cut off and dicard dark green portions of the leeks (can save these portions for stock). Cut the white and light green parts into 1/4 inch rounds.Place the sliced leeks in a bowl and rinse well with cold water.
2. Heat oil and butter together in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Saute the garlic until fragrant.
3. Add the leeks and some salt to taste. Saute the leeks on medium heat for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked down to a creamy consistency, stirring once in a while. Add a little water if the leeks start to dry out. At the end of cooking time, let the leeks cook to almost a golden color.
4. Stir in the cream, pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste) and set the sauce aside.
5. Cook pasta in the boiling water. Save 1 cup of the pasta water.
6. Stir cooked spaghetti into the sauce. Add enough pasta water to bring the sauce to the desired consistency. Stir in the parmesan and serve.
What started off as a simple supper turned out to be quite special- this pasta is outstanding! The leeks have a wonderful flavor that is mild and pleasing, and the sauce showcases it beautifully. This is the perfect pasta for a winter night, and definitely goes straight on to "keeper" list.
I served the pasta with some simple roasted beets.
More leek dishes:
Leek and Potato Soup
Savory Leek Quiche
Leek and Potato Galette
Leeky Lemon Risotto
I'm thrilled to have discovered leeks and in celebration, I am sending this post over to Kalyn for Weekend Herb Blogging. WHB is in its third year of celebrating the beauty of herbs and vegetables!
Which of the alliums is your personal favorite? Do you have any much-loved recipes using alliums?
My birthday gift to V was an "experience" gift: a skydive. On the last day of 2007, V jumped from a plane! That's him in the picture, free-falling in the skies above Missouri. He landed safely on terra firma a few minutes later with the words, "Man, that was peaceful" and a huge grin on his face. Who knew falling from the sky could be so much fun?