So anyways, a simple post for a simple (but elegant!) pasta recipe. It feeds two, but can easily be halved or doubled. The recipe was born on one of those lazy days when I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, and instead put together a meal out of the bits in my kitchen. I really liked it, and have made a few times since. What makes it nice is how the leeks turn into a lovely creamy tangle that nestle into the shells. The leeks are the star, the peas add a complimentary sweet note, the pepper adds a bit of fire, and the herbs add some freshness. This is a dish worth trying, especially as we slide toward fall, and leeks become more tender and melt-y.
Pasta Shells with Melted Leeks
1 1/2 cups of pasta shells
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp each freshly grated nutmeg and ground black pepper
3 cups of minced leeks (cut into quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/4 inch thick)
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp minced chives
3 tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley
2 – 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts/sliced almonds (I forgot to add this time)
To Serve: additional black pepper, Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Approximately two minutes before pasta is finished, add the peas to the pasta pot. Drain when pasta is cooked and al dente.
While the pasta cooks, start preparing the leek mixture. Melt the butter in a saucepan, over medium heat. Add nutmeg and pepper. Stir, then add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes (or until the raw garlic smell is gone). Add the leeks, lemon juice, and salt. Cook the mixture until the leeks break down. This should take about 15 – 20 minutes (depending on how tender your leeks are). Add the cream, cook for about three minutes. Add the chives.
Combine the pasta, peas and leek mixture. Add the parsley and stir to incorporate. Top with pine nuts/almonds. Serve warm, with additional pepper and Parmesan cheese.