Leeks are a fantastic spring vegetable. They have a light onion and garlic flavor, similar to shallots, but much milder. Their smaller cousins, ramps, have a more intense flavor but a shorter peak season - take advantage of them when you can find them. I like to add leeks to pizzas, pastas, soups, and casseroles. Here I combined them with spinach and shrimp in a lovely spring pasta dish.
Swish the leeks around with your hand, then let the dirt settle to the bottom of the bowl - the leeks will float. Scoop the clean leeks out from the top of the water and let drain in a colander for a few minutes.
Add shrimp and lemon zest and cook until opaque.
Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta
adapted from Real Simple
12 oz gemelli, fusilli, or some other short pasta
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), cut into half-moons
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup heavy cream
10 oz baby spinach
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot, do not rinse.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks have softened, 3 - 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and lemon zest and cook, tossing frequently, until the shrimp is opaque throughout, 4 - 5 minutes more. Add the cream and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pasta in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until slightly thickened, 1 - 2 minutes. Add the shrimp mixture and the spinach to the pasta and toss to combine.