Orecchiette with Leeks, Spinach, Sausage, and Peas
Pasta is what is for dinner!
Fine Cooking Magazine
This pasta dish came out so well. Big John called it a winner. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did.
3 lbs. leeks (3-4 large)
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 lb. Circle B Ranch Sweet Italian Sausage
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
5 oz. baby spinach (about 5 packed cups)
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
12 oz. orecchiette, farfalle, or other short pasta
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano (about 1 ½ cups), finely grated, plus more for serving
½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving
Trim the leeks, leaving the white and light green parts. Slice in half lengthwise, then crosswise into ½-inch thick half-moon slices (will yield about 8 cups). Rinse well and pat dry.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up the meat into small bits. Add more oil if needed and thoroughly cook sausage, about 5-7 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a bowl, leaving about 2 Tbsp. of fat in the pan. Add the leeks and ¼ tsp. salt, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more oil if the pan seems dry. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until the leeks are tender. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted, 1-2 minutes. Return the sausage to the skillet and keep warm.
Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sausage-leek mixture, the reserved cooking water, cheese, mint, and a generous pinch of pepper. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve topped with additional cheese and lemon wedges on the side.