A wholegrain pasta recipe full of mouth-watering flavors!
I have a thing with leeks. They easily make it up to the top of the list of my favorite vegetables. When I come across them at the grocery store or the street market, neatly stacked on the bench, I just have to buy some! I consider them a vegetable-candy. Try putting just one leek in any vegetable recipe and you get a taste that will definitely have its share of sweetness!
I have added them in countless recipes. But this particular one has been a favorite in our home for many years. It has even been presented onto holiday tables with great success. How couldn’t it be? It was inspired by Jamie Oliver.
It was many years ago, on a winter Sunday afternoon that I came across the original recipe on the TV show Jamie at home. Each episode was based on a basic home garden ingredient and this one had me at the title: Leeks! A few more interesting ingredients like parmigiano and prosciutto – another favorite one! – and… Jamie had my undivided attention.
This afternoon was highly educational. I learned about the love affair between leeks and butter and ever since that day I had the chance to witness it and, most importantly, taste it again and again in many recipes.
And I also discovered pangrattato. Breadcrumbs browned in a pan with olive oil and seasonings that Italians used back in old times to garnish their pasta with when cheese was not affordable. And it may sound like a big load of carbs but, believe me, this one you have to try! Because when it comes to unique, homemade recipes, a planned cheat meal is a must.
I simplified Jamie’s recipe and made many changes throughout the years. I use whole wheat penne for this recipe. And I I’ve heard the question “Why whole wheat pasta?” a hundred times… Simply because I like it. I like the taste better, it’s so much more filling and healthier, so why not choose it over plain white pasta? But don’t worry, you’re free not to agree with me and make this recipe with plain penne instead. Sure success. Tried and tested.
Whole wheat penne with leeks and prosciutto
What you need:
- 500 gr. / 16 oz. whole wheat penne
- 5 leeks
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 8 slices prosciutto
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan (plus some extra for garnish)
- Salt and freshly-ground pepper
What to do:
– Cut off the ends of the leeks keeping a little of the light green part, remove outer layers and wash them. Slice them in half lengthways and cut them in ½-inch pieces.
– In a wide saucepan with a lid, heat the oil and butter in medium heat and when the butter melts add the garlic and leeks. Move them around until they are well coated and add thyme and oregano.
– Add the wine, salt and pepper and stir in the vegetable stock. Cover with the prosciutto slices, place the lid on and let them cook for 25 minutes.
– In the meantime, boil the penne in salted water according to package instructions. Don’t drain them completely but keep a little of the cooking water in them (about half a cup).
– Remove the prosciutto slices from the pan, cut them in pieces and add them back in. Add the penne and stir in the parmesan.
– Serve immediately with a handful of pangrattato (see directions below), some extra parmesan and freshly-ground pepper.
For the pangrattato
- 3 slices stale whole wheat bread
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1/3 tsp dried oregano
- Salt, pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
How to make it:
– Cut bread in chunks and put them in a food processor. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano and whiz until you have thick bread crumbs.
– Heat olive oil in a nonstick frying pan and add the breadcrumbs. Stirring continuously, fry them until they are golden brown and crisp.
– Drain them on paper towels before serving.
Recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver.