Lots of you probably have never ever eaten a leek. You might not know what the heck it is. Imagine an overgrown scallion with a mellow onion flavor. It is a member of the allium family: more information can be found at this site: http://www.culinate.com/articles/culinate8/meet_the_alliums. Sold mostly in the fall and winter – as it takes a long time to grow one. So now is the perfect time to try this great recipe which is built around the humble leek. Generally the deep green leafy portions of a leek are not used. I use the white and the lighter green. Leeks can be sandy or grimy; careful cleaning is critical. I rinse them a lot as I cut and pull off outer leaves. Cut off the root remnant and then slice into 1/3 inch slices. Discard the outer deep green leaves. They are too tough and don’t have great flavor anyway. I try to grow leeks but not too successfully as they seem rather too needy: long growing season, rich soil and lots of water all much required. Buy them at a farm stand if possible; freshest source and probably cheaper. This recipe is the perfect way to introduce yourself to leeks; they will melt in your mouth and match perfectly with the creamy sauce and the bacon.
Anyway, enough of the wonder of leeks: this is a pasta sauce recipe too! Yes, the leeks are the predominant flavor but another major flavor is the Canadian bacon, you can use ham, prosciutto or thick cut bacon. I love it just as I made it with Canadian bacon; great flavor, easy to cut into strips and less fat than other choices. Plus it was the only gluten free hammy choice I could find that day. A lot of ham sold has gluten – used in the spices or the added liquids. Annoying to have to read the labels of something you might think was naturally safe for celiacs like me.
I used penne as I was serving it to an elderly lady who couldn’t manage linguine or fettuccini as the original recipe suggested. Use whatever pasta floats your boat; the peas were cute as they stuck inside the pasta tubes so I think it worked great. If you are not needing to eat gluten free use your favorite pasta by all means.
Best quality Parmesan means it is a chunk you have to grate fresh; small grater side. Jarred grated cheese will not do, this recipe depends on high quality ingredients to show off the delicate flavors it is chock full of. If you are a shroom hater; by all means leave them out but I loved the earthy meaty flavor contrasting against the cream and leeks. Can you tell I adore this dish? It is going to be a favorite of mine for sure. The original recipe came from Epicurious but I jiggered it a bit with the peas and mushrooms and subbed in Canadian bacon for more fatty traditional bacon.
Angie’s Leek and Bacon Sauce with Pasta
3 tbsp. EVOL
2 tbsp. butter
3 leeks cut crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds; white and pale green only
1 8 ounce package Canadian bacon cut across into 1/3 inch wide strips
6-8 oz fresh mushrooms sliced (not too thin)
¾ to 1 cup frozen tiny peas
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves pulled off stems
¾ cup heavy cream
1 box gf penne or linguine (12 ounces)
¾ to 1 cup just finely grated good quality Parmesan cheese
Start a big pot of water to boil for pasta, add salt.
Melt 1 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. EVOL, add the leeks, saute slowly until soft; may take 10 plus minutes. It should practically melt in your mouth. Set aside; can put them in a container and store in fridge a day or two. If making dish right away, in a clean pan add rest of EVOL and rest of butter. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until cooked fully, 5-8 minutes. While that cooks make the pasta in that pot of boiling salted water. Do not overcook; try to time it so it gets done when you add the peas to the dish. Reserve a cup of the pasta water for thinning the sauce. Add bacon, stir a couple minutes. Add the peas and thyme. Stir well. Add the cream, stir and when it is warm but not boiling add the leeks and the cooked pasta. Stir well, add some of the pasta water, stir more to blend. Add enough water to make the sauce the thickness you desire; I didn’t need more than half the water but you know how you like your sauce. Taste and make sure your peas are done then add three fourths of the Parmesan cheese. Serve the rest of the cheese to sprinkle on top. Dive into leek and bacon loveliness!