What’s in Season: Leeks

Unlike the relatively small green onion, leeks were not part of my Chinese-American gastronomic upbringing. In fact, I don’t think I had ever touched one until I was in culinary school, where I learned to appreciate their mild oniony taste.

These days, leeks come in handy when I want to add a sweet and delicate flavor to soups and other dishes. As a nutritional bonus, they’re also a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate.

In this recipe, I like to sauté them till they’re softened and slightly browned, and toss them in hot linguine for a delicious weeknight meal.

Leek, Lemon, and Caper Linguine

4 to 5 large leeks
16 ounces dry linguine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup drained capers
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
Kosher salt
Shredded parmesan, optional

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1. To prep the leeks: Trim the hairy root ends and cut off the tough green parts. Take the remaining sections and slice in half lengthwise. Soak in a bowl of cold water or run the pieces under running water to remove the dirt. Chop the leeks into half-moon pieces about 1/4-inch thick, and set aside.

2. Cook the pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain and reserve about 2 cups pasta water.

3. While the pasta cooks, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Heat the butter and oil, then add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook until the leeks begin to soften and brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Add the lemon juice, capers, zest, ¼ cup parsley, and ½ cup pasta water. Stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, adding more pasta water if the mixture seems dry.

5. Pour the drained pasta into the leeks and toss, adding more pasta water if necessary. Season with salt to taste.

6. Serve immediately with the remaining parsley and parmesan, if desired, sprinkled on top.

Photo Credit: bogumil/Shutterstock.com

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