Caramelized Leek Pasta

Serves 4. Leeks are lovely right now and when cooked slowly they get that sweet subtle onion flavor. This would be great over any pasta but I chose something that would hold all that flavor in its nooks and crannies. I chose to crush up Margot's Morsels KIller Garlic but you can leave them whole or just crumble them a bit. I promise this will be the last pasta recipe for a while.
  • 2 pounds (about 4 medium) leeks, white and light green parts only (roots trimmed)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth (or, if you don't have it – white wine)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large lemon
  • 6 ounces lumache, conchiglie, or your preferred pasta
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Fresh basil leaves, roughly torn, for serving

Slice the leeks in half lengthwise and discard any tough outer layers. Either run under or soak in cold water to remove any sand between the layers. Pat them dry and slice into ¼-inch half-moons.

In a heavy bottom or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and stir until well-coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until tender and golden, stirring often, 20 to 25 minutes. If the bottom of the pot starts to get develop a crust, reduce the heat and add a splash of water to deglaze. Add the vermouth and simmer until the liquid has completely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 

Zest half of the lemon into a medium bowl. Juice half the lemon into another smaller bowl. Cut the remaining half of the lemon into wedges for serving. Transfer your crushed Margot's Morsels to the bowl with the lemon zest and stir to combine.

When the water is boiling, salt it generously. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until 1 minute shy of al dente. When the pasta is almost ready, return the leek mixture to medium heat. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta thoroughly

Take just ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and stir it into the leek mixture. Transfer the drained pasta directly to the sauce. Cook the pasta in the sauce for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is well coated. If the sauce gets too thick, use the remaining 3/4 cup of pasta water, a little at a time to loosen. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Loosen the sauce with additional pasta water as needed. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Divide the pasta among bowls and top with crumbled Margot's Morsels in Killer Garlic, Simply Sea Salt or Primo Parmesan and top with your torn basil. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges for squeezing. Mangia!

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