In the spirit of the holiday season, and family gatherings, I will attempt to offend no one with this week’s recipe. No sarcasm. No bite. No improper innuendo. No jabs at Americana. Or even Mexicana for that matter. Nope. Just boring facts about leeks, which will be easy to do, because leeks are boring. Like onions, garlic, scallions and chives, leeks are member of the Allium family. Sure, they’re good with potatoes in vichyssoise (if you like cold soup), and they’re good for making a stock (when combined with other ingredients), but on their own they’re the subtle and boring member of the family.
If the onion is the relative that comes to your holiday dinner only to make everyone cry, and garlic is the family member that shows up only to make a stink about everything, then leeks are the demure one that shows up and keeps quiet. The one who says very little, but then helps with the dishes. Yes, leeks may boring, but they’re reliable. And with some salty pancetta and Parmigiano over pasta, they’re a delicious and understated change of pace. You definitely want a few leeks in your holiday mix. I can tell you from experience, too many onions and garlics make for too much drama. So believe me, this holiday season, the more leeks the merrier!
Buon Appetito and Happy Holidays!
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
Remove the outer leaves from the leeks, and then chop off the stems and leafy green tops. Cut the leeks into thin rings. Rinse thoroughly. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta and cook until golden. Add the leeks and sauté them until they begin to turn golden. Add about a cup of water, and salt and pepper, and the cook for about 10 minutes, until they are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, and then drain, retaining 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the leeks and cook together for about a minute, adding some of the retained water if it seems dry.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.