Dinner with Bittman: Pasta with Leeks and Parsley

Recipe from How to Cook Everthing.

Pasta with Leeks and Parsley

Makes: About 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Leeks become tender quickly enough to make a distinctive sauce for pasta in little more time than it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. And teamed with the classic southern Italian quartet of garlic, chile, parsley, and olive oil (butter’s good, too), the sauce is delicious.


4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter

2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

2 or 3 dried red chiles or hot red pepper flakes to taste

3 large or 4 medium leeks (at least 1 pound), trimmed, washed, and chopped

1/2 red bell pepper or 1 tomato, chopped (optional)

1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Meanwhile, put half the oil or butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot or the butter is melted, add the garlic and chiles and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic browns, about 2 minutes; remove the chiles (and the garlic if you prefer).

2. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the bell pepper, if you’re using it, and lower the heat; continue to cook, stirring once in a while, until the leeks begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.

3. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. When it’s done, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta and leeks together with the remaining oil or butter, a few sprinklings of black pepper, and all but a little of the parsley, adding a bit of the cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.


Posted in Italian, Recipes


  1. hurricaneh said...

    Sounds like such a spring recipe, but when you add tomatoes and such, I guess it’s really seasonal!

  2. Peggy Ruzicka Davenport said...

    Great meal! Everyone loved it.

  3. Josh Tuck said...

    Made this for dinner last night… fantastic. We liked how simple, light and fresh it was. Too much pasta these days is weighted down with heavy sauces and loads of cheese.

  4. Cathie Ryder said...

    Very flavorful! And fresh and satisfying! We will definitely serve this again and again!

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