Saturday, January 9, 2010

Loving the Local Leeks

I've been traveling a lot this year, and it seems that something different is in season every time I return home to visit my local farmers' market in the Ballard neighborhood.

I'm happy to report that there are delicious possibilities for organic, local eating even in the middle of winter. This leek pasta recipe is one of my favorites. It's easy, delicious, and it utilizes leeks, which are a welcome, hearty green in December and January. Thanks to my friend Joe for initially coming up with this recipe, and my husband Steve for adapting it. As an added bonus, he can even find leeks in Jordan!

Winter Leek Pasta

For a pound of pasta you need three big leeks or a handful of midlings. Thin slice the leeks up to where they get really dark green and coarse (you can go higher with smaller leeks), and put them in a bowl of cold water for a while. I also poke the rings to separate them since it's better at getting the dirt out.

Start the water boiling for pasta - spaghetti or linguini work best.

Save some pasta water to add to the leeks later.

Over medium high heat, put in a shallow coat of olive oil and maybe 2-3 tbsp. butter. Also add 1-2 tsp salt to lightly coat the pan, some pepper flakes, and a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic.

Once the butter melts, add the leeks and cook until they're soft (10-15 minutes depending on the stove top). You'll know they're ready when they start to carmelize and brown.

Keep stirring, and add the pasta. You can scoop the pasta straight from the pot into the sauce, and then add about a quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese (is there such a thing as too much?) and toss.

You can (read: should) throw in another tbsp. or two of butter, and if the dish looks dry, add some pasta water while stirring over heat.

Bon Appetit!

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