It’s always good to have a quick and easy pasta dish in your back pocket for those days when you need it. My rigatoni with leeks and bacon comes together in less than 40 minutes!
If you like onions then you are going to love leeks! They are vegetable related to onions, shallots, garlic, and scallions. Their flavor is milder than an onion and slightly sweet; the delicate flavor adds to dishes without overpowering. They are common in soups and quiches, but I like to use them in place of onions in pasta dishes or risottos.
The first time I tried a recipe with leeks, I was confused when the recipe called for 3 leeks. When you go to purchase them you’ll see that they can be quite large. But most of the leek isn’t actually edible. The top dark green leaves of the leek are discarded because they can’t be eaten. Instead, the white and light green parts of the root are used for cooking.
To prep a leek, start by cutting off the green leaves and the roots. Slice the remaining root in half, lengthwise. Place each half cut side down, and slice into half moons. I prefer to slice my leeks pretty thin; typically ⅛ of an inch and no larger than ¼ of an inch. I find leeks cut to this size cook up nicely, and integrate better into dishes.
The layers inside a leek typically get filled with dirt and sand, so you want to make sure you wash the sliced leeks thoroughly. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the sliced leeks. Stir them around gently then let them sit for about 10 minutes. The dirt and sediment will fall to the bottom of the bowl, while the leeks float. I like to remove the leeks from the bowl of water with a pasta spoon, then give them one last rinse in a colander. After that I throw them on a clean kitchen towel and carefully pat them dry.
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you! It is easy to put together, and filled with flavor! Leeks love bacon and cream. You might be thinking this pasta is on the heavier side, but don’t worry, the dijon mustard balances out the richness of the bacon and cream to lighten the dish. Gruyere and fontina cheese melt together beautifully to add to the creaminess of the sauce. I finish it with pea shoots for a little sweetness and crunch.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you’d like to check out other leek recipes, scroll to the end of this post for some inspiration from other food bloggers.
Creamy spring pasta flavored with sweet leeks, salty bacon, and tangy dijon mustard
- 4 slices uncooked bacon, diced
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 large leeks (or 3 small), thinly sliced and cleaned
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1 lb rigatoni pasta (fresh or dry)
- ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese
- ½ cup grated Fontina cheese
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Small bunch of pea shoots (optional for garnish)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Add the diced bacon to a large, cold skillet. Turn the heat to medium, and render the bacon until crispy, about 8-12 minutes. *See note
- Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon, and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Carefully drain all but 1 tbsp of bacon fat from the pan.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Add the unsalted butter to the bacon fat. Stir in the leeks and ¼ tsp kosher salt. Saute until soft, 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in dijon mustard and thyme. Cook for 1 minute.
- Slowly stir in the heavy cream and ¼ tsp kosher salt. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium high heat, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. *See note
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the pasta to the sauce, along with the cooked bacon, gruyere and fontina cheese. Toss to coat the pasta and melt the cheese.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with pea shoots.
- Starting the bacon in a cold pan and cooking over medium heat, will ensure the bacon fat renders slowly and cooks evenly.
- Adding the cream slowly to the pan will allow it to come to temperature and thicken quicker. If you add the cream too quickly, the temperature in the pan will reduce and have to come back up before the cream and boil and thicken.
- Category: Pasta
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: leeks, garlic, rigatoni, heavy cream, pasta, pea shoots, dijon mustard, fresh thyme, creamy pasta, spring pasta, quick pasta dinner, gruyere cheese, fontina cheese
Check out these leek recipes from other talented food bloggers!
- What Annie’s Eating – Roasted Side of Salmon with Fennel + Grapefruit Slaw
- Jessie Sheehan Bakes – No Knead Bread with Caramelized Leeks and Black Pepper
- @farmandcoastcookery – Spring Fritata
- Gobble The Cook – Gyoza (Japanese Potstickers) with Leeks
- Whatcha Cooking Good Looking? – Baked Bacon, Leek, and Tomato (BLT) Risotto
- Bappy Girl – Poached Cod with Leeks in Peppered Milk
- Jean Choi – Paleo & Keto Quiche with Smoked Salmon and Leeks
- Baking The Goods – Leek Lemon & Thyme Focaccia
- ¡Hola! Jalapeño- Chicken and Leek Soup with Lemon Carrot Top Pesto