Lemon Leek Pesto Penne

I ran across this recipe from Kathy Patalsky’s site. I thought it would be different because I would never put leeks into a pesto. However, it worked and it tasted good.

Leeks are something I’ve always heard of, knew about, and have seen in grocery stores but I never really cooked with it that much. The first time I was introduced to leeks was when my mother-in-law got me Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. I don’t think leeks are used too much in Southern cooking and it’s definitely not used in Korean cooking. When you look at them, they look like giant green onions.


When I have cooked with it, I would slice off a bit of the leaves (the brown parts) and slice off the bottom. Then I’d rinse them and turn them upside down so the dirty water would pour out. Little did I know that I was doing it all wrong.

Because they grow partially underground, dirt can get in between the leaves. You can see in the photo below that the leaves criss cross.

IMG_4423 IMG_4424

So, you are supposed to slice a bit off of both ends. Then, you slice the stalk lengthwise and then rinse it really well. When I did this, I really got to see some dirt in between some of the leaves that I would have never got if I did it the way I’ve always done.


After I was happy that I got all the dirt and mud removed, I sliced it up and threw it in my food processor to make the pesto. I added the orange juice, basil, one garlic clove (because I have huge ones), walnuts, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I left out the jalepeno because the little one was going to be eating this too.

One side note: because my garlic clove was huge the pesto had a bit of a spicy flavor to it. Raw garlic can have a bit of a bite or spicy flavor. There are different opinions on how to cut down on the “bite.” I will tell you it was pretty interesting at the gym last night every time I had to burp. There were people on either side of me running, so when I burped I had to blow my burp up and out-of-the-way discreetly hoping and praying no one would smell or notice it. Then today I find this little blurb in my Cook’s Wisdom book about garlic:

To tone down on garlic’s pungency, simmer peeled cloves in a small amount of water for 1 to 2 minutes. This also softens it for smoother incorporation into sauces, dips, or dressings.

I wish I would’ve seen that little tip before I started my pesto.

This excerpt is from the Flavor Thesaurus:

Adding a small amount of garlic, to meat, seafood, green vegetables and even truffles is like drawing a keyline around their flavor–everything gains a sharper definition. Garlic also adds something of a succulent quality. For a mild garlic flavor, infuse warm cooking oil with a whole, unchopped clove; for something more potent, use it raw and crushed to a paste.

A tip on storing garlic from my Cook’s Wisdom book:

Keep whole garlic heads in an open container in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place for up to 2 months. To help prevent the heads from drying out, leave the papery skin on and break off individual cloves only as needed. Once separated, unpeeled cloves will keep for up to 1 week. Chop only as much garlic as you will use right away. Although chopped garlic can be refrigerated, sealed in an airtight container to prevent the transfer of odor and flavor to other foods, the volatile oils in garlic that give it its flavor begin to break down as soon as it is crushed or chopped. It will discolor, and the flavor will take on unpleasant tones. Commercial garlic paste and commercial chopped garlic will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

So, here’s the beginnings of the pesto:


And here’s the finished:


Then I got to work on the pasta. I had penne going for the Hubs and little one, and I had quinoa pasta for myself. I sliced up the other leek and thawed out some peas and threw those into a pan to cook for a bit. Those were going to go on top of the pesto as a type of garnish.


Don’t the green colors of the peas and leeks just look so pretty? It just looks like spring.

Kathy Patalsky says to add lemon juice and olive oil as a garnish as well, but I forgot. So, I just put the pasta on the plates, put some pesto on top of that, and then added the peas and leeks.


This is my dish with the quinoa pasta. The dish was easy to make, quick, tasty, healthy, and fresh tasting (if you don’t mind tasting garlic every time you burp). I’m definitely going to be making this dish again but with less potent garlic. I wasn’t sure how the little one would do with this dish because of the leeks, but he ate all of it! This dish is a good way to get your kids to eat their vegetables too. Even if you don’t add the other leek and peas as a garnish, they’ll get the nutrients in the pesto.

Tonight I’m going to be making a Pho from My New Roots. I can’t have any rice noodles or buckwheat noodles. Most of the buckwheat noodles on the market have wheat mixed in them. So, I’m using sweet potato noodles, or for those of use in the know, they’re japchae noodles. So, we’ll see how this turns out because japchae noodles are a completely different texture.

Happy Tuesday everyone!


One thought on “Lemon Leek Pesto Penne

  1. Pingback: I’m Back and with A Roasted Tomato Herb Quiche! | Trying To Be A Good Vegan

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