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The Leek Sauce for when You’re Tired and Hungry

It’s Saturday evening. Your mouth craves weekend flavors but your body doesn’t want a long, difficult slog in the kitchen. This is what you make.

May 1, 2018

Pasta with leek sauce and grated cheese on a plate.

This sauce recipe morphed out of one by Jamie Oliver for kale and leek. It was a recurring staple in my repertoire until the evening I found my (usually) expectant fridge without kale.

A near disappointment gave birth to a new recipe, easier to make and just as pleasing as its “mother sauce”.

A Sauce Full of Possibilities

I like to eat this with whole wheat pasta. I boil the pasta two minutes shy of it’s suggested cooking time, then simmer it in the leek sauce for a few minutes. I add crushed walnuts, chopped parsley, lots of cracked black pepper and a grated hard sheep’s cheese: Manchego, Pecorino Romano or, if you’re in Ireland, mature Cratloe Hills.

The sauce leftover from this recipe effortlessly transforms into other appealing meals:

  • Stirred through brown rice and chickpeas for a one-bowl meal
  • Layered into a kale and lentil lasagna
  • Spread onto pizza dough and topped with raw leeks dressed in oil and lemon, blue cheese and walnuts

A Leek with a Difference

I’m spoiled by the leeks from Kilbrack Organic Farm, something I discovered when the Coal Quay Market was closed for snow and I bought a leek from Tesco. The outside of the insipid little thing looked fine but the inside was wilted and sickly-lustreless. Nothing like the robust, vibrant-hued batons I’d grown to love.

I hope you’re able to find leeks of the same quality.

Squeaky Clean

My favorite way to clean leeks is to first cut them as the recipe suggests, then give them a good swish in a large pot filled with water. Gently pull apart their layers to find dirt. Let the leeks soak a few minutes so the dirt settles in the pot’s base, then lift out the leeks to drain through your hands. Rinse then refill the pot and repeat the process until there is no longer sediment collecting in the base.

I cook the entire leek. Throwing out the firmer dark green parts seems such a waste.

Silky Leek Sauce

I find this properly seasoned when it’s almost too salty to eat on its own. The saltiness mellows once the sauce is added to the pasta.

Makes enough to coat pasta to feed 4, with leftovers for another use


  • 6 Medium-Large Leeks, trimmed, halved, washed (see method above)
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves, Peeled
  • 100 ml Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice, a small squeeze, or, to taste
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  1. Drop the leeks and garlic in a large pot of salted, boiling water and cook for 6 minutes.
  2. With tongs, lift the leeks and garlic out of the pot and into a food processor. Reserve the boiling water to cook the pasta.
  3. Turn the food processor on and add the remaining ingredients. Let it run for several minutes for a smooth texture. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Leftovers will keep, covered, in the fridge, for several days.

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