This simple pasta recipe leans on leeks, squash, and lemon for classic Spring flavors. And wow – if you’ve never grated zucchini and cooked it down into a creamy, luscious sauce, let me change your life! In this recipe, grated zucchini cooks down with aromatic leeks and garlic until soft, and turns into a sauce with starchy pasta water, lemon, and goat cheese. Light and creamy, this dish pairs well with the clean and crisp flavors of a good white wine, like the Smith Story’s Sauvignon Blanc. Bring it all together with grated parm, fresh herbs, and more lemon wedges for serving. Feeling creative? Check out the Riffs section beneath the recipe to see how you can spin this recipe with ingredients you may already have on hand.
Creamy Spring Pasta with Leeks, Zucchini, + Lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 4 small zucchini, grated
- 1 lb dried pasta
- 5 oz goat cheese, room temp
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more for serving
- Few pinches chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, or chives
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Optional: crushed red chili flakes
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a heavy bottomed dutch oven or large pot over medium high. Add leeks and sweat for about 5 minutes, or until soft and almost translucent, stirring occasionally. Season generously with kosher salt.
- Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add grated zucchini and cook down for about 15-20 minutes, or until its saucy, releases most of its moisture and the mixture reduces by about half. Season generously with kosher salt.
- When the zucchini has been cooking for a few minutes, cook the pasta just shy of al dente, as it’ll finish cooking when you toss it into the zucchini mixture. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water - you’ll use this for your sauce.
- When the zucchini has cooked down, add the cooked pasta, goat cheese, grated Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir until combined and creamy, tasting to make sure the pasta is cooked to your liking. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more pasta water to loosen up the sauce as needed.
- Serve with generous amounts of grated parmesan, chopped fresh herbs, cracked black pepper, and crushed red chili flakes, if desired.
A FEW NOTES ON RIFFS:
- The leeks: Shallots, red onions, or yellow onions are great substitutions.
- The Zucchini: Use any grated summer squash in place of zucchini.
- The Pasta: Short pasta with nooks and crannies are great for catching all that sauce, and longer pastas like bucatini are ideal for twirling. You can’t go wrong with any pasta shape here.
- The Goat Cheese: Goat cheese adds a little tang and a welcome creaminess, no cream required. Sub in ricotta if desired. If needed, omit the goat cheese entirely and up the amount of pasta water and grated parm, and mixed until creamy.
A FEW SWAPS FOR YOUR DIETARY NEEDS + PREFERENCES:
- Make it dairy-free and vegan: Omit the goat cheese and sub in your favorite creamy vegan cheese, top with nutritional yeast.
- Make it gluten-free: Simply use your favorite gluten-free dried pasta. Eat Banza has great options.
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