This Caramelized Leek Pasta features buttery, melt-in-your-mouth leeks, garlic, and shallots tossed with your favorite pasta and finished with lemon and parmesan. It’s the perfect quick weeknight meal – done in 30 minutes! It’s easily made both gluten-free and vegan.

I’m big on pasta recipes, and let me introduce you to a new favorite around here:

Melt-in-your-mouth, caramelized leeks, sauteed with shallots and lots of garlic…tossed with buttery pasta and finished off with lemon and Parmesan? Pretty much my dream meal, and I didn’t even know it until I made this dish. It is DREAMY, and perfect whether you’re looking for leek recipes or when you’re just craving a simple pasta dish. Not too saucy or heavy, but with tons of rich, vibrant flavors.

It’s great for serving on it’s own, or you can use it as a side for your favorite protein. You could also add protein into the dish to bulk it up a bit: chickpeas or tofu would be great to keep it vegan, or you could use chicken, bacon, or sausage if you’re not vegan. You can also add extra veggies! Sauteed mushrooms would be amazing in this dish, as would wilted greens or any other veggies you love. Let’s get into the details!

Why you’ll love this caramelized leek pasta:

  • Easy to make
  • Ready in 30 minutes
  • Easily made gluten-free & vegan
  • Works as a main dish or a side for your favorite protein
  • Only 8 ingredients needed!

To make it, you’ll need:

  • Leeks, you’ll need the white and light green parts only.
  • Butter, vegan if needed, which is what I used. You can also substitute olive oil.
  • Shallots and Garlic, for lots of flavor. Feel free to add extra!
  • Pasta of your choice, I used a gluten-free rigatoni.
  • Lemon for brightness and acidity. I used the zest and juice.
  • Chives or your favorite fresh herbs, basil or parsley also works well here!
  • Parmesan cheese to garnish! I used my favorite vegan parmesan from a local vegan cheesemaker.
  • Salt & pepper, to taste, as always.

To make the leek pasta:

  1. You’ll start by caramelizing all of those leeks in butter – I used vegan butter to keep things dairy-free + vegan. The pan will be FULL, but similarly to caramelizing onions, they’ll reduce in size and in the process, become soft, sweet, and absolutely delicious.
  2. Once the leeks are halfway caramelized, add in the shallots and garlic and allow them to cook and soften.
  3. In the meantime, cook your pasta in generously salted pasta water. I used gluten-free rigatoni.
  4. Once your pasta is cooked, add it to the leek mixture, along with the rest of the butter. Toss to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix in the juice of half a lemon, and garnish with fresh herbs (I used chives) and a generous shaving of Parmesan. I used vegan parmesan. Serve, and enjoy!

Want to add a protein? You can either serve this alongside your favorite protein, like a grilled chicken breast, steak, or tempeh, or add a protein to the dish! For a vegan protein, I love adding chickpeas or tofu. For an animal-based protein, this recipe would be great with bacon, chicken, or sliced sausage.

I hope you love this simple vegan pasta dish as much as I do! It takes such an underrated vegetable, leeks, and makes them the star! Their beautiful, sweet, and subtle allium flavor is so good once caramelized. You’ll be hooked!

Serve this dish with:

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Caramelized Leek Pasta

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 7 reviews
  • Author: Rachel Conners
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This Caramelized Leek Pasta features buttery, melt-in-your-mouth leeks, garlic, and shallots tossed with your favorite pasta and finished with lemon and parmesan. It’s the perfect quick weeknight meal – done in 30 minutes! Easily made both gluten-free and vegan. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted buttervegan if needed
  • 3 leeks, chopped and rinsed, the white and light green parts only, totalling about 4 cups chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • 8 ounces dried rigatoni, penne, or fusilli pasta, use gluten-free if needed
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 small bunch fresh chives, or another fresh herb of choice, to garnish
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving, vegan if needed

Instructions

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large high-sided saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and shallot. The pan will be pretty full, but similarly to caramelizing onions, they’ll reduce in size significantly. Sprinkle with the salt, and let them cook for about 15 to 2o minutes, mixing every so often until they’ve softened significantly.
  2. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring it into the leeks.
  3. While the leeks saute, cook your pasta according to the package instructions in generously salted pasta water. I used gluten-free rigatoni, but any pasta shape you love will work.
  4. Once your pasta is cooked, add it to the leek mixture, along with the rest of the butter. Toss to combine, and add more salt to taste.
  5. Mix in the zest and juice of half a lemon (or more, if desired). Add in half of the chives and a generous shaving of Parmesan. Toss to combine.
  6. Serve with the rest of the chives sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan. Enjoy!

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