Monday, June 04, 2007

sunday supper: leeks & leaks

And it shall be the week of pasta. It's just too hot to cook anything that a) takes longer than 10 minutes, b) requires the oven, or c) has a lot of heavy meat in it. When it gets really hot out, the idea of raw meat in my general vicinity sort of icks me out. I guess I can just anticipate what the garbage is going to smell like. After all, I have to walk by that supermarket on the way to the subway every morning, and on a hot day, you have to hold your nose and run.

Last night's pasta was a campanelle with aged goat cheese, leeks, pancetta, and black pepper. I was worried that the goat cheese and pancetta would be overwhelming flavors, but to my delight the aged cheese was far more subtle that you might imagine, and the pancetta was used sparingly, mostly for the rendered fat to sautee the leeks in. The leeks were the true star of the show, and boy do I love leeks. Unfortunately, the air conditioner had it's own leak, and that was more of a nuisance...

The recipe is from Sally Schneider's A New Way To Cook, via Her recipe was only for 8 ounces of pasta, so I adjusted it a bit. I mean come on, only 1/2 pound of pasta? Who is she cooking for? I also didn't really follow some of her cooking methods, which seemed to be more trouble than necessary.

The accompaniment to the pasta was a delicious zucchini and arugula salad, which I found on Smitten Kitchen. Fresh and delicious, and worked perfectly even if my faux-mandoline doesn't really slice paper thin. I was surprised at how effective the salt was at making the raw zucchini really tender but still crisp.

Recipe for the pasta after the jump:

Adapted from "A New Way To Cook" via

3 pounds leeks
3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 2/3 cup)*
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 lb campanelle pasta (any small shaped pasta would work, like orecchiette or tagliatelle)
3 ounces aged goat cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Using only the white and pale green parts of the leeks, cut rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Soak slices in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes, to allow dirt to settle at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse well and pat dry. In the meantime, boil the water for the pasta.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sautee pancetta until it has rendered its fat and is crisp but not burnt. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the fat in the pan as possible. Add leeks to the pan and sautee until soft, about 8-10 minutes. If the leeks are done before the pasta is ready, you can set the pan aside off the heat until ready. When the pasta is ready, put the leeks back on the heat, add back the pancetta, and add the drained pasta, reserving about 3/4 cup of pasta water for the sauce. Add the goat cheese and toss to melt cheese and thoroughly coat the pasta, adding pasta water if needed. Pepper liberally, then toss in the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

*You can easily adjust this recipe to be completely vegetarian by substituting 2 tbsp olive oil for the pancetta.


Leah said...

I'm totally making this for dinner tonight. Yum. It's so hard to figure out something that both Ella and Alex will eat. Last night Ella ate veggie soup, fried tofu, and cucumber spears. Alex ate chili dogs, tofu, and cucumber spears. I, go figure, ate tofu, cucumber, chili, and broccoli pancakes. That sums it all up in a nutshell. Many different dinners. Tonight everyone will, by gosh, eat your pasta suggestion.

B said...

argh! Food porn!