Leek Top Cacio e Pepe

Leek Top Cacio e Pepe

Leek Top Cacio e Pepe

1 leek top, split in half (see here) and cut into 6-inch lengths

6 ounces bucatini or spaghetti

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 C. grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Fill a large pot with salted water (use 2 or 3 three-finger pinches of salt – it should taste like the sea) and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, stack a couple of leek lengths on top of one another and make narrow cuts down the length of them, like you’re turning them into linguini. Once you get the hang of this, you can make your stack a little higher. Don’t stress out about it too much; they won’t all look perfect – it’s fine. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and give it a stir. Take note of the instructions on the package; you’ll be subtracting 2 minutes from the cooking time. One minute before the pasta is done (so 3 minutes before the time on the package), add the shredded leek tops. Drain the pasta and leek tops, reserving 1 C. of the cooking water. Return the empty pot to the same burner and turn the heat to medium. Add the olive oil and pepper to the pot; let it sit until it smells fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the drained pasta and leek tops to the pot, and using tongs, toss everything around to coat. Add ¼ C. of the reserved pasta water to the pot, sprinkle on about half of the cheese (you’ll end up with cheese clumps if you dump it all in one pile), and, using the tongs, toss to coat and melt the cheese. Repeat this step with another ¼ C. pasta water and the rest of the cheese. You should now have a silky sauce coating all of the pasta and leek tops (the tops might require a little more tong action to distribute them evenly). If not, add a little more pasta water and toss everything again, then serve and eat immediately.

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