Creamy Leek and Pancetta Fettuccine

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Some nights (or maybe more like a majority of nights) I crave a big bowl of pasta for dinner. I'm sometimes satisfied with my favorite shape, tossed with a little bit of parm, and topped with some salt. Other nights though, I crave a little bit more. Basically, think a restaurant-like pasta dish (rich, ultra-satisfying, and always delicious), but maybe a little bit healthier, and still just as simple as any weeknight pasta.

Enter this creamy leek and pancetta pasta!

So here is that dish. When you're starving after work it's so easy to think any extra ingredients aren't worth the trouble, but when you're sitting there twirling creamy fettuccine noodles in your spoon you will fully appreciate the *tiny* bit more effort this dish is than another.

Creamy leek sauce

Which ingredients do you start with?

You'll start by cooking the pancetta and leeks. Once your leeks are cleaned and sliced, and your pancetta is diced, it's time to cook these 2 essential ingredients up. This is as easy as:

  1. Heating a little olive oil in a skillet
  2. Adding the pancetta and cooking it over low heat until crisp
  3. Removing the pancetta to a paper towel lined plate
  4. Adding the leeks and cooking for 5-6 minutes until softened.

Once the pancetta is crisp and the leeks are soft, it's as easy as tossing in some garlic, and seasoning the leeks with salt and pepper. And an important note on the pancetta - although it may look like a small amount once it's cooked, I can assure you the flavor it leaves behind in the pan is mighty. So don't hate on the browned bits you remove and just trust that they are leaving behind the most wonderful base for the rest of your pasta sauce.

Creamy fettuccine

Where does the creamy aspect of this sauce come in?

While this sauce may taste like a deliciously creamy sauce you'd find in a restaurant, it's actually pretty light, but still so flavorful. It reminds me of a cross between a carbonara and an alfredo, both of which I love. All you'll need to add is:

  1. milk - creates a delicious sauce while still being light
  2. thyme - pairs perfectly with the leek and pancetta flavors
  3. parmesan cheese - thickens the sauce up and makes this extra tasty

This recipe is also great because these ingredients are added right into the skillet with the leeks. Simmer this combination over low heat until it begins to thicken up. While simple, the flavors from the pancetta and leeks adds so much. While the sauce is thickening, cook up that fettuccine, making sure to reserve some pasta water!

Creamy leek and pancetta fettuccine

How do you finish this recipe up?

Once the sauce is done it's as easy as tossing the cooked fettuccine through the sauce. Once the pasta is drained, you'll want to immediately add it to the sauce along with the reserved pancetta. Toss it all together, and continue cooking for a few minutes to ensure the sauce coats the pasta. If needed, add in some of the reserved pasta water to ensure the sauce is the perfect creamy and glossy consistency.

As always...

Be sure to add on some freshly grated parm and additional thyme and black pepper. Extra points for a solid fork twirl.

Creamy leek and pancetta fettuccine with parmesan

Enjoy this health(ier) delicious carbonara-cousin infused with the most delicious leek and pancetta flavors.

Creamy Leek and Pancetta Fettuccine

Basically like carbonara, hold the eggs, keep the carbs and the creamy, cheesy sauce in this leek and pancetta fettuccine.

Author:
Jackie

Ingredients

Servings: 4

  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 tsp thyme fresh, chopped, plus additional for serving
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • parmesan shredded, for serving

Instructions

1. Cut leek in half, discard dark green part, and thinly slice remaining white and light green parts.

2. Dice pancetta (if you aren't using pre-diced).

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, over low-medium heat for 10 minutes or until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel lined plate.

4. Add leeks to skillet the pancetta was cooked in and sauté over low heat for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

5. Add milk, thyme, and parmesan cheese, simmering for roughly 10 minutes over low heat or until sauce begins to thicken.

6. Meanwhile, cook fettuccine according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain, immediately adding fettuccine to skillet with sauce.

7. Return pancetta to skillet and stir to combine. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, adding pasta water as needed, until sauce is glossy and coats pasta.

8. Serve immediately, topped with additional fresh thyme and shredded parmesan, and enjoy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

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