Monday, April 9, 2012

Pasta, Leeks, Peas, and Lemon

I found this recipe in Martha Stewart Living, April 2012. This a great light tasting dish that can be prepared in less than a half hour.

What is a leek? A leek is a type of onion. Similar to a scallion that has many layers and that you have to peel. You need to wash leeks carefully, there can be a lot of dirt stuck between the leaves. To wash them I sliced the bottom of the stalk off (like celery) and then peeled all the layers. I washed each piece then cut them into small slices.

Snow peas. Are. Amazing. Crisp and crunchy and sweet, they are probably one of my favorite veggies. They are very versatile and are a great addition to salads and pasta dishes. Peas can be blanched (cooked in a boiling water for 2 minutes), raw, or stir fried. I generally nosh on them raw.

Egg noodles are pasta but it has a little bit of a different texture. Most times they are flat and similar to a fettuccine or linguine, just short. If you don't have egg noodles on hand regular pasta would work just fine.

Leeks in the pan
I melted some butter over med heat in a big frying pan, when it was melted I tossed the sliced leeks into it. I continued to stir them around to ensure the cooked and didn't start to brown. The recipe calls for lemon zest. I didn't have any lemons on hand so I put in 1/4 tsp of lemon extract. (I have made this with lemon and without lemon, I think the lemon was nice but its not necessary if you don't have it on hand). This took about 5-6 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Meanwhile I started to boil some water in a medium size pot. When the water was boiling I blanched the snow peas for about 2 minutes. I tossed the peas into the frying pan with the leeks and then put the egg noodles into the boiling water. The noodles only took about 5 minutes to cook. I strained the noodles out of the water and into the frying pan with the snow peas and leeks. You want to save the pasta water for when add the ricotta cheese. This combination creates a sauce for the veggies and pasta.

I omitted the Pecorino Romano cheese because I don't care for too much cheese. I think next time I make this I would include dice chicken or grilled chicken.You can also sub for whatever fresh veggies you have on hand (e.g. asparagus or broccoli) and onion or scallion for onions. This will change the cooking times though, so be aware. :)

Snow peas and leeks in the pan
Also, If making this for 4 people and this is the main dish without any other sides, I would use the whole pound of pasta.

Egg noodles, Leeks, Snow peas, and Lemon

Serves approx 4  
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale-green parts only), cut into thin half-moons and rinsed well
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half crosswise (optional)
  • 3/4 pound dried pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. 
  2. Melt butter in big frying pan over med heat. Add leeks and some salt to the frying pan. Cook until leeks are soft and begin to become soft and tender (7-9 minutes). Remove from heat. Add the lemon zest (or lemon extract) to the leeks with some pepper.
  3. When the water is boiling add the peas to the water and blanch about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate or into the frying pan.
  4. In the water the peas just blanched in add the pasta and cook until al dente (4-5 minutes). Don’t drain the water but add pasta to the frying pan. If you haven’t added the peas to the frying pan do this now. Stir in pasta water ½ cup at a time and alternate with the ricotta and cheese until the pasta is covered in the creamy sauce.

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