I stumbled upon a few issues of Food and Wine in my magazine stash, sandwiched between Domino (RIP) and Blueprint (RIP). I picked two simple pasta recipes that made use of my withering supply of arugula and leeks.
First, the good: Leek sauce + Pasta = Delicious. The leek flavor is subtle, and depending on how much lemon you add, it has bright citrus notes. The creaminess derives from the smooth, thick texture of pureed leeks, not heart-clogging ingredients (besides the cheese).
Fusilli with Creamy Leek Sauce
Adapted from an adaption (A squared?) of a recipe by Jessica Lansky, an instructor at Tante Marie (with which you lovely SF-ers are probably familiar), published in Food and Wine, April 2007
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium leeks, white parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. fusilli
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
 You'll want to have two burners ready. On one, bring a big pot of water to boil. On the other, heat the olive oil in a big, deep skillet. Add your leeks and cook them over medium heat. Stir them once in a while and keep an eye on them (leeks get quite soft and can burn). Let them cook until they start to brown, about 10 minutes. Now add your chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then transfer the mixture to a blender: Puree away until you have a smooth, barely green sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 Ok, easy! Your sauce is done. Now your pot of water should be boiling. Add the fusilli pasta and cook until almost al dente. [I usually cook for 7-8 minutes to reach al dente, so this might mean about 5-6 minutes.] Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of your pasta cooking water [Don't forget like I once did and dump all that good stuff down the drain! ] Now pour the pasta back in the pot. [Can you "pour" pasta?]
 Your pasta is waiting! Add your attractive leek sauce and the reserved cooking water to the pot. Stir everything together and cook over medium heat. You want the sauce to thicken and the pasta to become al dente (about three minutes). You're not done. Where's your cheese? Add your cheese and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately. Sprinkle more cheese on top, if you wish.
- Instead of 6 medium leeks, I had a few medium leeks and a bunch of GIANT leeks from the farmers market. The sauce came out fine, which means that you don't have to be too precise with your vegetable:stock ratio.
- I was excited to use parsley from my young balcony garden. The herbs are growing well out there, and the parsley tasted uber-fresh!
- I didn't want to stand at my counter and grate cheese all day, so I bought Trader Joes' shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano. The large shavings were better than the small shavings my Microplane would have produced.