April 1, 2011

My favorite pasta recipe :: Leek and Pea Orcchiette

This is one of my favorite dishes. My mom and I first made it several years ago. We found the recipe in a Real Simple magazine. It combines three of my favorite things: Pasta, Lemons and Leeks. It is the perfect spring pasta dish. The first thing you need to acquire for this dish is some orecchiette pasta. They have it at Target locally or if you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joes you can find it there for pretty cheap. We have made this dish before with mini shells and it turns out just fine. A bowtie pasta would also work. Cook your pasta according to the directions.

Next you will need 3-4 leeks. Leeks are usually available at your local grocery store near the turnips or green onions. They look like a large green onion. You use only the bottom light green and white part of the leek. They chop up nicely into 1 inch pieces. Add the to the olive oil and cook them for about 4 minutes or until soft and translucent.

Once the leeks and garlic have cooked you can add in your peas. Add as many as you would like. The recipe calls for 10 oz but sometimes I only have 7 oz. because I have already used the other 3 from the bag. This part of the recipe is flexible.

Check on your noodles. You want them to be slightly el dente because they will finish cooking as you are combining all the other ingredients.
Next you will need to grab your cheese and cream (I used half and half because it is what I had on hand). Just use whatever you have - cream, half and half, whole milk. The cheese will make it thick enough to create the "sauce". You want to put your cream in a saucepan along with the cheese. Stirring constantly on medium heat wait until the sauce becomes thick.
Once the sauce is thick you can turn the burner off and let it sit. Now you will want to zest your lemon. Stir the zest in to the cream sauce.
Add all ingredients in to the drained pasta and serve in individual sized bowls. Enjoy!

The Recipe::
  • 1 pound oreccheitte
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 - 10 oz. package peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Italian cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (optional) - I only add this when mint is in season
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain it and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the leeks to the saucepan, season with the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and peas and cook for 2 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the cream and ¾ cup of the cheese. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the sauce, lemon zest, and mint to the pasta pot and toss. Divide among shallow bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pepper.

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