Orecchiette with Leeks & Crème Fraîche
This pretty little dish is the perfect winter-to-spring transition pasta: It’s full of light, tangy crème fraîche, spring leeks, tender green peas, and lemon zest. The leeks are sautéed with aromatics, chile flakes, lemon, wine, and a tiny amount of anchovy, so they have a bright, savory depth and a surprisingly spicy finish. The peas are so perfectly cooked, they pop in your mouth. And the whole thing has a delightful creaminess — thanks to the crème fraîche and a little Parm — so it’s as comforting as it is light and refreshing.
This dish’s good looks and wonderful flavors belie its simplicity: all the veggies can be prepped in the time it takes to cook your pasta, and they sauté in minutes. We’ve also gone the extra mile to make sure the measurements are unfussy, and you don’t end up with a silly amount of leftover ingredients. After all, nobody wants a spare anchovy loitering in the fridge.
Make this one on a busy weeknight when your inner gourmand demands something tasty — and your busy worker bee can’t wait to get out of the kitchen and into the easy chair. It’s a one-bowl masterpiece that pairs beautifully with a glass of crisp white wine and the crossword puzzle. And, yes, the leftovers will make a day-changing lunch.
Servings: 4 to 6
1 lb orecchiette
1 cup fresh peas
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped, soaked, and drained
8 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 oz anchovies, drained and roughly chopped
¾ tsp red chile flakes
Leaves from 6 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup white wine
8 oz crème fraîche
Parmesan, lemon zest, and chopped parsley, for garnish
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. When the pasta is very close to done, add the peas — they should be in the water for about 30 seconds — and then stir and drain.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, stirring occasionally, until they just start to soften, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, anchovies, chile flakes, and thyme leaves and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the lemon juice and white wine, stirring continuously, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
Add the cooked pasta and peas to the leek mixture. Toss lightly. Stir in the crème fraîche and toss until mixed throughout.
Garnish with Parmesan, lemon zest, and chopped parsley, and season with black pepper. Serve immediately.