From Ronna Welsh’s The Nimble Cook
A few notes:
- Be sure to use only the whites and very light green parts of the leeks. If you don’t the leeks are just a little harder to chew — not impossible, though it might require a knife-and-fork treatment.
- If you are making the braised leeks to serve as a side dish, trim the root so that the leeks will still stay intact once quartered. Having made this a few times now, I think, when prepping the leeks for pasta, it’s best to trim the root off of the leeks completely, so that the leeks do not stay intact — it helps them tangle with the noodles more easily.
For the braised leeks:
- 4 to 5 large leeks, white and light green parts only
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/3 cup crisp white wine
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
- a few sprigs thyme
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 peppercorns, optional
- 10 coriander seeds, optional
For the pasta:
- 12-oz pasta, such as pappardelle
- shaved Parmigiano Reggiano to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- optional herbs: finely chopped parsley or chives, to taste (this is mostly for color)
- flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, to taste
- Heat oven to 325ºF. Trim the leeks of any roots. Slice each leek lengthwise through the bulb, then once more to make quarters — if you are only making the braised leeks, it’s OK to keep the leek end intact; if you are making the pasta, cut enough of the root off so that the leek does not stay intact (see notes above). Fill a large bowl with water and submerge the leeks in it. Swish them around and carefully bend the pieces, using your fingers to release any dirt trapped between the layer of the bulbs.
- Once clean, lift out the leeks, drain, and place in a snugly fitting roasting pan or Dutch oven — ideally something that can go on both the stovetop and oven if you plan on making the pasta — no more than two layers deep. If your leeks are extra long, cut them to fit.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and place in the oven. Braise until the leeks have dulled in color and are quite tender to a knife, and bend and flex effortlessly, about 45 – 50 minutes. Taste for salt. Cool to room temperature before storing. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months.
- Meanwhile, if making the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Cook pasta al dente (times will vary according to package). Reserve at least a cup of pasta cooking liquid — I like to transfer the noodles from the pot using my spider or tongs, thereby reserving all of the cooking liquid. The extra pasta cooking liquid is so nice to have on hand for heating up day-old pasta.
- Place the pan of braised leeks on the stovetop over low heat. Transfer the cooked noodles to the pan with the leeks and toss with tongs to combine. Add pasta cooking liquid as needed — I’ve been adding at least 1/2 cup. Shave parmesan to taste over top and season with fresh cracked pepper to taste as well. If you seasoned your pasta cooking liquid as directed, you should barely need any salt here, but taste, and adjust seasonings as desired.
- If using herbs, add them, and toss to coat. Serve, shaving more parmesan and cracking more pepper over each serving if desired.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French, Italian
Keywords: braised, leeks, pasta, pappardelle, spring