This Lemon Leek Pasta recipe is light, healthy, and ready in 30 minutes. It's gluten free and great for a vegetarian weeknight dinner.
This post was sponsored by Barilla but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
This Leek Pasta is fresh and ready in only 30 minutes!
Pasta is one of my all-time favorite things to cook. I love that you can combine it with any combination of ingredients and in 30 minutes you have a tasty and satisfying meal.
I went gluten free a year ago (do you you get a reward or a trophy or something for your 1 year gluten-freeiversary)? Is that a thing?
One food that I wasn't about to give up with along with gluten is pasta. There are lots of gluten free pasta products on the market today and I was introduced to one earlier this year that I come back to over and over again.
That pasta is the Red Lentil Penne and Red Lentil Rotini from Barilla. I love the texture AND taste of this pasta. I've created a number of recipes using this stuff and enjoyed every single one of them. Part of the reason for that is the 'al dente' texture - It holds up perfectly to anything you add to it.
This time I wanted to pair it with an ingredient that tends to get overlooked for no good reason - Leeks. Leeks are a hearty member of the onion family and provide great savory flavor.
There are many reasons to love this Barilla Red Lentil Penne and among them is the fact that it is made with only ONE ingredient - Lentils. If you're gluten free you're used to reading labels, trying to decipher the mysterious ingredients on the package. You don't have to do that with this pasta - There's nothing hiding in here.
Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and high in fiber. This Red Lentil Pasta is vegetarian and vegan so it's suitable for all kinds of diets.
You can grab a multi-pack (it includes both the Red Lentil Penne and Rotini) on Amazon. This allows you to try both varieties and the 4-pack lets you stock up a bit. I don't know about you guys but I always love to have a few boxes of pasta on hand!
Barilla makes a Chickpea version as well and it's made with only one ingredient as well. That's right - Chickpeas.
How To Cut Leeks
Leeks have a flavor that is a bit more mild than onions. It's somewhere between an onion, shallot, garlic, and a scallion. The flavor is a bit nutty and leeks are often used in soups, stews, roasted meats, and paired with chicken.
You can find them in the produce section of the grocery store.
Leeks are not difficult to cut but it's important to remove any dirt that might be hiding in there.
- To cut the leeks remove the dark green woody tops and the hairy portion at the bottom with a knife. The light green and white portion are the edible parts of the leek.
- Cut 2 leeks into thin slices. Place the leek slices into a bowl of cold water. This will get rid of any dirt.
- Scoop the leek slices out and place them in a strainer or colander using a slotted spoon or spider strainer.
- Place the leek slices on a towel or paper towel and pat dry.
How To Make Lemon Leek Pasta
Two large leeks should yield 2-3 cups of sliced leeks.
You can't make a pasta recipe without adding some garlic (I think this is some kind of universal rule or law).
- Mince 4 cloves of garlic.
- Heat a skillet to medium and add 2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is heated add the garlic and leeks along with a ¼ tsp. kosher salt and pepper. Saute on medium-low for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The leeks will cook down a bit and start to caramelize. The leeks along with the garlic are super fragrant and smell amazing as they cook!
Boil a pot of water and prepare one package of Barilla Red Lentil Rotini pasta according to package instructions. Feel free to boil the pasta as the leeks are cooking.
What Flavors Go Well With Leeks?
Once the pasta is finished cooking drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
I thought this pasta needed a hearty green so I went with kale.
Can I Substitute Any Other Greens?
Yes! You can use any type of hearty green that you like with this recipe - Spinach, Swiss chard, arugula. If kale isn't your thing there are lots of other options!
- Chop 2 cups of kale or leafy green.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the reserved cup of pasta water, the chopped kale, and another ¼ tsp. of kosher salt and pepper.
- Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the kale wilts down a bit.
Love Mediterranean flavors? Don't miss these recipes:
- Sheet Pan Mediterranean Chicken and Potatoes
- Instant Pot Mediterranean Chicken and Rice
- Mediterranean Veggie Naan Pizza
- Mediterranean Potato Salad
Garnish The Leek Pasta
Leeks are often paired with heavy ingredients like cream, bacon, or pancetta but I wanted to keep things light and stick with Mediterranean flavors. There's no cream but to bump up the 'gourmet factor' I thought it best to add some lemon and Parmesan cheese.
- Zest 2 lemons into the pasta using a microplane or small grater and then add the juice of the lemons.
- Add 1 cup of shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese to the pasta.
- Stir in the lemon zest, juice, and Parmesan cheese allowing it to melt slightly.
What To Serve With Lemon Leek Pasta
I love the brightness that the lemon juice and zest gives this pasta. Leeks are kale are earthy in flavor as are lentils and the lemon makes it pop.
To garnish I added some chopped walnuts for texture, minced basil, and some extra shaved Parmesan cheese.
You can use any type of nut to garnish - Almonds, pine nuts, or hazelnuts would be delicious!
Feel free to use any type of fresh herbs you like to garnish - Parsley, chives, or even mint are great options.
You could even add some capers, artichokes, or olives for an extra salty kick.
How Long Does This Pasta Last In The Fridge?
This pasta lasts 2-3 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Make sure to allow the pasta to cool completely before transferring to the fridge if storing.
If you're looking to add more plant-based protein or clean eating recipes to your diet you've got to check out this Barilla Red Lentil Pasta! It's SO versatile and a great alternative to traditional pasta.
I'm pretty picky about the flavor and especially the texture of pasta and this one is at the top. And you can make healthy flavorful meals like this Lemon and Leek pasta in no time at all!
Love pasta? Be sure to check out these recipes:
- Easy Chicken Marsala Pasta
- One Pot Veggie Pasta
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta Bake
- Mushroom and Olive Pasta
- Lemon Pea Risotto
- Skillet Vegetable Lasagna
- Gluten Free Vegetarian Lasagna
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Green Pasta Sauce
Looking For More Healthy Pasta Recipes? Don't Miss These!
Lemon Leek Pasta (Vegetarian)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large leeks yields 2-3 cups
- 2 cups kale or green of choice
- 1 package Barilla Red Lenil Penne Pasta
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- ½ tsp. kosher salt split
- ½ tsp. pepper split
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 lemons zest and juice
- ½ cup walnuts or nut of choice
- ½ cup fresh basil or herb of choice
- Mince 4 cloves of garlic and chop 2 cups of kale or green of choice.
- Remove the dark green woody tops and hairy bottom portion of 2 large leeks and discard. Slice the lighter green portion of the leeks into thin slices. Place the leek slices in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt if necessary. Scoop the leek slices into a strainer or colander using a slotted spoon or spider strainer. Pat the leeks dry with a towel or paper towel.
- Heat a skillet to medium and add 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, add the garlic, leeks, and ¼ tsp. kosher salt and pepper. Saute for 8-10 minutes, stirring often. The leeks will cook down and caramelize a bit.
- Boil a pot of water and prepare 1 package of Barilla Red Lentil Penne pasta according to package instructions. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with 1 cup of reserved pasta water, the chopped kale, and another ¼ tsp. kosher salt and pepper. Stir to combine and saute for 4-5 minutes or until the kale wilts down a bit.
- Add the zest of 2 lemons to the pasta using a microplane or small grater. Add the juice of the lemons as well. Add 1 cup of shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese to the pasta. Stir to combine and cook for another minute or so.
- To Serve: Garnish with walnuts or nut of choice along with minced basil or fresh herb of choice and another sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.Other topping ideas include capers, artichokes, or olives.