This lemony pasta with leeks and peas is a light, one-pan springtime meal. Comes together in just 30 minutes!
For internal purposes only, I refer to this dish as “quarantine pasta”. A year ago, when we were all shut up in our homes – somewhat clueless and fully terrified – many of us (Rene and I included) turned to doughy things and other starchy foods for comfort and solace. And I’m not a psychologist or anything, but this intensive therapy definitely worked. (Well, for the short term, anyway.)
This pasta with leeks and peas unintentionally became our signature lockdown dinner. I turned to this soul-satisfying one-pan meal – which was initially just a weeknight improvisation – whenever preparing three meals a day got to be too much (yes, even for a recipe blogger).
The dish calls for just a handful of ingredients, is decidedly unfussy, and is fun to eat in large quantities when you’re watching hours and hours of Netflix every night to escape the uncertainty of your own miserable life.
I’d considered sharing the recipe back then, but honestly thought it was too simplistic and not enough of a “recipe”. But when spring rolled around this year, I made the dish again and realized just how wrong I was. (My quarantine brain must not have been thinking straight…)
How to Make This Pasta with Leeks
This one-pan dinner comes together in the time it takes to cook a box of pasta. While you wait for a pot of water to boil, you slice up a leek and cook it in plenty of olive oil; the white parts get all soft and creamy, while the green parts get brown and crispy.
Eventually, the cooked leeks are joined by frozen peas, lemon zest, nutritional yeast, pasta, and some of the starchy pasta water. The result is a light springtime pasta coated in savory leeks, sweet peas, and spicy black pepper, with a lemony note in the background. Nutritional yeast adds a “cheesy” vibe and the pasta water binds everything into a silky mess.
Cleaning and Cooking with Leeks
If leeks are new to you, don’t stress. They’re basically a large onion-scallion hybrid with a grassy floral taste and crunchy texture. Just like onions, you can eat them cooked or raw, and I eat both the green and white parts.
One thing you’ll notice about leeks is how much sand they house between their layers. To clean the leek for this recipe:
- Trim the root end, as well as a few inches off the dark green portion – just the part that looks bruised/dry. (You can save these to make scrap broth.)
- Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut the leeks into thin half moons.
- Place the leeks in a big bowl of water and swirl them around with your hands to release all the dirt.
- Lift the leeks out of the water and place back onto your cutting board. If the water is really dirty, repeat the process once or twice.
Like most minimally-sauced pastas, this one is best when eaten immediately. Unlike something like lasagna, it doesn’t hold up too well to reheating.
Check out these other pasta recipes…
- Creamy Basil-Spinach Pesto Pasta
- Pasta with Beans and Mushrooms
- Creamy Tomato Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce
- Creamy Veg Curry with Crispy Tofu and Sesame Noodles
This lemony pasta with leeks and peas is a light springtime meal. Comes together in just 30 minutes!
- 1 large leek, white and green parts
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 8 ounces fettuccine (or egg noodles)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, plus extra for serving
- Zest of half a lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- Begin by cleaning the leek: Trim the root end, as well as a few inches off the dark green portion (just the part that looks bruised/dry), and discard. Halve the stalk lengthwise and slice into 1/3-inch-thick half-moons. Place the sliced leeks in a big bowl of water and swirl them around, separating the layers with your fingers to release all the dirt. (If the water seems really dirty, repeat the process again.) Lift out the leeks with your fingers and set aside. (Don’t bother drying them off).
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until they’re browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Add the peas and black pepper to the leeks and cook just until the peas are bright green, about 1 minute. Turn heat off.
- Generously salt the boiling water and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. (I like to break the pasta in half so it’s easier to incorporate into the sauce, but I know some people view that as heresy!)
- Turn the burner under the leeks back on to medium heat. Transfer the pasta to the skillet with the leeks along with the nutritional yeast, lemon zest, the reserved pasta water, and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve immediately, with extra nutritional yeast and pepper for sprinkling, if desired.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
- Calories: 337
- Fat: 11.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 51.4 g
- Fiber: 4.6 g
- Protein: 9.5 g
Keywords: leek, pasta, peas, vegan