A cousin to onion and garlic, leeks are quite popular in European cuisine, but can easily be grown in Indian soil. The part of the leek that is edible, in case you haven’t been introduced, are the long stems that have bundles of sweet alium flavour wrapped inside it, as opposed to the sharp flavour of our pink onions. There are many ways to cook leek- some prefer to char it, others braise it in stock or a cream sauce, but I prefer to go slower. Cooking it very gently in fat makes it fall apart into a soft sweet mess that forms the base of this pasta recipe. Since pork and leek tend to marry so well in terms of flavour, I decided to use bacon from a local cold storage that would render a generous amount of fat that the leeks could cook in. When done, it’s a quick job of combining the leek and bacon mixture with a bit of pasta water and eggs for a silky, creamy pasta sauce. A finish of parmesan and chilli flakes later, you have a delicious pasta dish that is sure to impress even the most skilled pasta maker.
Yield 2 very hungry people
Leeks 3-4, medium-sized
Salt for the pasta water, plus more to finish if necessary
Pepper for seasoning
Parmesan a generous shaving
Lemon 1 zested and juiced (optional) 1/2 tbsp zest and 1/2 tbsp juice
Chilli flakes to finish
You can also choose to add peas or other greens to this pasta dish
- To prepare the leek, take off any tough outer green leaves until you reach the tender stem. Next, cut the leek lengthwise, give it a rinse, then chop each halve into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces. Do this for all the leeks.
- In a medium skillet, add the bacon and let it cook on medium-low heat for about 7-8 minutes till the fat is rendered. If the bacon has already crisped and browned, remove them and set aside. Add the chopped leek to the rendered fat and turn the heat to low. Cover the skillet and let the leeks softly steam inside for a whole 10-15 minutes. Check on them occasionally to see if it hasn't dried out or that none of it is stuck to the bottom, as this will burn and change the flavour of the final sauce.
- When the leeks have collapsed and become very soft, take the pan off the heat. Bring a stockpot full of water to a boil and salt the pasta water. Proceed to cook the pasta according to packet instructions or until al dente. Remove 1/4 cup of pasta water from the stockpot closer to the pasta finishing.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmesan, the lemon zest and juice, if adding, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Add the reserved pasta water to this mixture and whisk vigorously to ensure no scrambling of the eggs.
- Drain the pasta and quickly toss the prepared sauce through with the bacon and leek mixture. Toss well to combine. Shave over the parmesan, sprinkle some more chilli flakes if you like and serve.